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					Getting Started:
A Newcomer's Guide to
Translation and

A publication of the ATA
American Translators Association

Compiled by Sandra Burns Thomson
American Translators Association

This Guide is a compilation of articles that have been published in The ATA Chronicle, the
Proceedings of the ATA Annual Conferences, or other ATA publications.

All Rights Reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form without the written
permission of the publisher.

ISBN: 0-914175-09-2

Price: ATA Members: $15; non-members: $25

Order from:   American Translators Association
              225 Reinekers Lane, Suite 590
              Alexandria, VA 22314
              Phone: (703) 683-6100; Fax: (703) 683-6122

Cover Design: Ellen Banker

       When I first learned about the American Translators Association, it was a

professional organization of 2000 members based in upstate New York. The decade since

has seen our membership grow to over 8000. Our budget and our publications have

expanded as well. The World Wide Web has changed translation, in some respects,

almost beyond recognition.

       One thing has remained the same, however—there is still a deep and ongoing

need for information about how to get started in the professions of translation and

interpretation. In the United States we have very few academic programs and even fewer

opportunities to learn on the job. The ATA has prepared this compilation of material

from our magazine, the ATA Chronicle, the Proceedings of our Annual Conference, and

other ATA publications as a resource for those new to the field, and those seeking more

knowledge about how to advance their career.

       It is my hope that this book will be a useful guide to anyone wishing to plunge

into the inspiring, maddening, ever-changing and ever-challenging worlds of translation

and interpretation. They are marvelous professions practiced by fascinating people. May

this volume help you make your way to success.

       Ann G. Macfarlane

       President, American Translators Association
                                                         TABLE OF CONTENTS

Introduction ...................................................................................................................................... 1

American Translators Association ................................................................................................... 2

Profile of a Competent Translator and of an Effective Translator Training Program .................... 3

An Introduction to Translation, John Bukacek ................................................................................ 5

ATA Publishes Translation and Interpretation Services Survey, Shawn Six ............................... 14

Letter to a Young Translator, Gertrud Graubart Champe ............................................................ 16

First-timers Find ATA Conference Well Worth Cost, Ann Sherwin ............................................ 18

Contracting to Provide Translation Services, James E. Gates and Ana E. Gray ......................... 20

The Translator as Global Contractor, Marga Hannon ................................................................... 22

The Bureau-Freelancer Relationship, Henry Fischbach ................................................................ 25

Is This Still Worth It? An Update, Jonathan Hine ....................................................................... 28

Setting Up an Independent Translation Business, Nancy M Snyder ............................................ 32

How to Successfully Market Yourself to Translation Agencies, George P. Rimalower .............. 37

10 Top Tips for a Top-Notch Translation Résumé, Eve Lindemuth Bodeux ................................ 40

Marketing Your Accreditation, Julien Marquis ............................................................................. 42

Top 10 Traits of Good Translators, Patricia L. Bown ................................................................... 45

Some Hints to Help Beginners in the Professional Business World, Natascha Ostroumoff........ 47

Internet Search Strategies for Translators, Manon Bergeron and Susan Larsson ........................ 50

Evolving Internet Strategies: Working the Web, Susan C. Rials ................................................. 54

Localization, Internationalization, Globalization, and Translation, Tim Altanero ....................... 60

As Tough as it Gets – But How Tough?, Leon McMorrow ........................................................... 63

To Go Where No One Has Gone Before: A Natural Evolution of the Translator's Role and
  Mission, Marie C. Martien ....................................................................................................... 68


One of the most frequently asked questions by callers to the American Translators
Association Headquarters is "How do I get started?" Starting out in a new chosen
profession is challenging no matter what the field. This packet is intended to offer
guidance to newcomers to the translation profession. You may be a recent graduate of a
university program in translation, or a graduate in a technical field with a sound
command of a second language. You may have worked for years in business, industry,
education, or social sciences, and now wish to use your near-native ability in a second
language to apply your skills in a different manner.

The enclosed articles are from several ATA publications. The packet reflects different
perspectives and approaches to the many aspects of our profession. Given the modern
world's rapidly changing technology, some technical or financial references in the older
articles may seem outdated. The articles were chosen for the valuable information on
getting started in the translation profession. The basics of training, technological know-
how, language abilities, and business skills remain at the core of what a beginning
translator needs to build a career.

You will notice that one aspect of being a translator is mentioned frequently—the
importance of being actively involved in your professional community. One of the best
ways to do so is to become a member of ATA. Member benefits are noted on the
enclosed sheet in addition to contact information for the Association. We hope you find
your journey in the translation profession as rewarding as the authors of the enclosed
articles have, and we extend a cordial welcome to our professional community. We also
encourage you to contact us with questions or suggestions.

                                              Sandra Burns Thomson

The American Translators Association, founded in 1959, is the largest professional
association of translators and interpreters in the U.S. with 8,500 members. ATA's primary
goals include fostering and supporting the professional development of translators and
interpreters, and promoting the translation and interpretation professions. ATA takes its
role seriously, helping translators and interpreters to get started, and offering professional
development opportunities. A central purpose of ATA is to formulate and maintain
standards of professional ethics, practices, and competence. The ATA Accreditation
Program offers testing in 25 language combinations. A task force is currently working
with the American Society for Testing and Materials to establish national translation
standards. ATA is also a member of the Federation Internationale des Traducteurs (FIT),
an international federation of translators' associations.

Our annual conference, held in the fall, features over 175 educational sessions; an exhibit
area displaying the latest publications, software, and related products and services, as
well as several translation agencies; a job exchange area where individuals market their
services and employers list vacancies and recruit personnel; and several networking
opportunities. ATA has 10 chapters in the U.S., and 13 specialized divisions: Chinese;
French; German; Hebrew [being established]; Interpreters; Italian; Japanese; Literary;
Nordic; Portuguese; Slavic Languages; Spanish; and Translation Company.

The ATA Website,, offers in-depth information on translation,
interpretation, and the Association. ATA administers the extremely successful online
Translation Services Directories to help locate translators and interpreters. The TSDs are
searchable databases featuring the profiles of over 4,000 individuals and 200 companies.

ATA publishes The ATA Chronicle, a monthly magazine distributed to the membership.
The Chronicle's purpose is to educate and inform translators and interpreters, as well as
to promote professional development. The Translators and Interpreters Training Survey
is a list of translation and interpretation programs offered by universities throughout the
U.S. ATA also publishes an annual conference proceedings, and the ATA Series, an
annual monograph. All of these publications are available from ATA Headquarters.

For additional information, please contact:
American Translators Association
225 Reinekers Lane, Suite 590
Alexandria, VA 22314
(703) 683-6100
fax: (703) 683-6122
 Reinekers Lane, Suite 590               Telephone: (703) 683-6100             american
(andria, VA 22314                              Fax: (703) 683-6122


  What Standards Should Professional Translators be Expected to Meet?

   1. A highly developed sense of intellectual integrity, responsibility, and ethical conduct, which in practical
        terms means:

        a.    Not accepting assignments beyond one's language and/or subject-matter competence,
        b.    Continuing the ongoing process of self-education and improvement both in linguistic usage and
              scientific/technical advances,
        c.    Bringing unsolved problems to the client's attention,
        d.    Keeping confidential unpublished information the translator is commissioned to translate,
        e.    Respecting deadlines mutually agreed to,
        f.    Helping upgrade the performance of the profession as a whole,
        g.    Sharing knowledge with one's colleagues,
        h.    Refraining from unseemly or exaggerated promotional claims, and
        i.    Abstaining from unsolicited criticism of translations by others.

  2. Language and subject-matter requirements:

        a.    Sound knowledge of source language, equivalent to at least four years of intensive and 10 years of
              sporadic study,
        b.    Above-average writing ability in the target language, equivalent to that of (self- or otherwise)
              educated native speakers,
        c.    Reasonable familiarity with the subject matter, equivalent to that which can be acquired by at least
              one year (preferably two) of formal education or job experience in the particular field,
        d.    Access to recent reference books, equivalent to those found in a fairly up-to-date professional library,
        e.    Contact with more experience fellow translators or more knowledgeable linguists and scientists, and
              the willingness to consult with them on a reciprocal basis.

  What Training is Required to be Able to Attain Such Standards?

  1. The following curriculum would seem to be the best way for a college student to prepare for a career in

        a.   Courses that provide an extensive knowledge of, and ability to reason in, the subject matter of the
             translation: mathematics, pure sciences, social sciences, history, business administration, and
        b.   Courses that provide a sound reading knowledge and grasp of the languages(s) from which one will
             be translating: four years of a major language, two years of a minor language; as many basic
             language courses as possible; at least two years of Latin (if nothing else, it will do wonders for one's
             English), and
       c. Courses that provide the ability to express oneself in lucid and straightforward English: writing
            courses, including one in newspaper writing and one in technical writing.

2. Periodic participation in advanced "postgraduate" workshops, notably in specialized subject-matter areas.

Where are the Clientele and Markets for Translators?

 1.   The U.S. Government and its agencies,
 2.   U.S. and foreign multinational corporations and their subsidiaries,
 3.   U.S. importers and exporters
 4.   Commercial and nonprofit research institutions,
 5.   Pharmaceutical, chemical, machinery, etc., manufacturers not covered by any of the above categories,
 6.   Engineering and construction firms with foreign connections,
 7.   Patent attorneys,
 8.   The publishing industry,
 9.   The news media,
10.   Municipal governments in bilingual U.S. cities,
11.   Graduate schools of U.S. universities,
12.   The United Nations and its affiliated agencies, and
13.   Foreign diplomatic, commercial, scientific, and other representatives in the United States.

What Specific Fields of Translation Have Special Requisites?

1. Literary requires:

      a.   Above-average knowledge of the source language,
      b.   Highly developed writing ability in the target language, and
      c.   Comprehensive background in the culture, history, and social customs of other countries (notably that
           of the source language).

Rewards: Intellectual satisfaction, public exposure, reasonable deadlines, byline credit.
Drawbacks: Limited economic opportunities ("feast or famine'') because of limited market and generally lower
rates than in other fields of translation; lack of retirement benefits (unless working in a salaried position).

2. Scientific/Technical requires:

      a.   Moderately extensive scientific/technical knowledge (theoretical and/or practical),
      b.   Familiarity with specific terminology and, in the absence thereof, to "know when you don't know,"
      c.   A reasonably up-to-date sci-tech library,
      d.   Ability to reproduce graphs and figures, and
      e.   In most cases, impeccable typing ability and good layout sense.

Rewards: Fairly steady income, with generally higher rates than in the field of literary translation and a broad
market, and the opportunity to expand one's subject-matter knowledge.
Drawbacks: Often "impossible" deadlines, the necessity of being a "Jack/Jane of all trades"; fairly high cost of
reference books; lack of retirement benefits (unless working in a salaried position).

3. Commercial requires:

      Most of the same qualifications as scientific/technical translation, but perhaps to a lesser degree.
    Introduction to Translation
           (originally published in An Introduction to the Professions of Translation and Interpretation)

2                                                                                             John Bukacek

        Prefatory Remarks

       This Handbook is intended to be useful for beginners and experienced translators alike.
No matter how experienced one may be, there is always more to learn, and sometimes it is
helpful to be reminded of fundamentals. Beginners can always benefit from the experience of
veterans, and, surprising though it may seem, veterans can learn from newcomers as well.

       Translation is a dynamic intellectual craft that is developed through experience and
maturation. Translation is a profession with elements of both art and science, and with deep
historical roots. At its best, translation can be an exquisite form of communication, facilitating a
meeting of minds across cultures. At its worst, translation can be nothing more than a slavish
substitution of words stripped of meaning, and hindering communication. In the workaday
world of most translators, their practice is somewhere between these two extremes.

        Over the years I have found that, rather than becoming easier, translation actually
becomes more difficult, because as I gain more experience, my own standards and expectations
keep rising, as do those of my clients. As I accept the challenge of increasingly complex and
sophisticated texts for translation, I find myself continually "raising the bar" and striving for
even higher levels of competence as a translator. Translation is a great challenge and a great
responsibility. We strive for excellence through the awareness of our strengths and our
limitations, and through an appreciation of the needs of our clients.

       Translation is a multifaceted business that is constantly changing. Those of us who make
our living as translators know that the market is constantly in flux. In that sense, as a business,
translation is really no different from any other business. In order to maintain and sustain a
translation business, one must have regular clients who supply a steady stream of work.
Although translation is part of the service sector of the economy, we really do not have a clear
picture of the translation "industry" as a whole because reliable statistics are not available.

       The question most frequently asked by beginners is: "How do I get started as a
translator?" The answer to that question is somewhat different now than when .I got started 20
years ago. At that time, I wrote my draft translations by hand, and typed the final drafts on a
typewriter. How things have changed! When I was a novice translator, I had no contact with
other translators at all. That has changed also, although I am convinced that most translators
are still too isolated from each other.
        Although computers and the Internet have changed our lives as translators, the
fundamentals of translation remain the same. In this informal and sometimes anecdotal
introductory chapter, I intend to outline some of those fundamentals. Other chapters of this
Handbook will go into more detail. This Introduction will not discuss spoken language
interpretation, though it is a closely related and complementary profession.

        The Process of Translation

        Translation is essentially a decision-making process that requires a combination of
language ability, subject-specific knowledge, intuition, research skills, and judgment. A proper
translation expresses the meaning behind the use of written words in one language in the
written word usage of a second language. Although the translator appears to be dealing with
words, in actual practice the translator is dealing with units of meaning that may or may not be
expressed by the words appearing on paper. The translator must go beyond the "tatemae" (the
appearance, or stated word) to the "honne" (the reality, or the true intent) of the document to be
translated. Meaning is not contained in words, but is abstracted from words and interpreted
within a context. The translator must rely not only on linguistic clues appearing in the
document, but also on extra-linguistic knowledge. The translator must be able to understand
and appreciate distinctions made in the "source language" of the document to be translated, and
to make equivalent distinctions in the "target language" of the translation. This is not an easy

        In broad outline, the steps in the translation process are as follows:

                Text Analysis -- Analyzing the structure of the text and its meaning
                Research -- Searching for meaningful "clues" within the text and outside
                             of the text
                Draft Translations -- Preparing as many drafts as are needed, including
                                           tentative translations
                Accuracy Checking -- Comparing the source and target texts
                Editing -- Reviewing the target language text for appropriate style and
                Formatting -- Putting the final text in printed and/or electronic form
4                                                                                        John Bukacek

        In the real world of translation, translators are constantly faced not only with
typographical errors in the source text, but also with intermittent failure (errors) in grammar,
rhetoric, and logic (trivial though they may be). A document must be analyzed not only for its
linguistic structure, but also for its underlying meaning. Some documents are written under
pressure, and sometimes by more than one author, which. can result in internal inconsistencies.
In addition, highly sophisticated documents often contain ambiguities that are open to
interpretation by the reader. The experienced and skilled translator will usually be able to
convey this ambiguity in the translation. The decision whether or not to preserve ambiguity
challenges the judgment of the translator.

        Steps (1) and (2) will often be repeated several times as a translator gains familiarity
with the source language text. In some cases, steps (1) and (2) may result in the creation of a
glossary for a particular translation.

       Thanks to computers, we can easily prepare and revise drafts (Step 3), making
corrections as needed. The translator can prepare as many drafts as required to massage the
translation so that it is as close a reflection of the original text as possible.

       The accuracy checking of step (4) occurs when the translator steps back from the act of
translation itself and compares the translation to the original text. It is absolutely essential that
this be done. My policy is to print out the translation and do the accuracy checking with hard
copy, even if the final translation is to be delivered electronically. It is very easy to miss things
on the screen. And I think it is important to "step back" and indeed "step away" from the
translation, and then go back to it. Ideally, it is best to set the translation aside for at least a few
hours, do something else, then come back to it with a fresh perspective. But we are continually
facing deadlines, so this is not always practical. It is often useful to have a translation reviewed
by a colleague for accuracy. After that, there is the need to edit the translation as a "target
language" document.

       Please note that steps (4) and (5) are two very different processes. Accuracy checking
means comparing the "source language" document with the "target language" document for
accuracy, while editing means evaluating the translation as a "target language" document
appropriate in style and jargon for the intended reader. If the translation is for publication, it is
best to have this done by a professional editor.
       Step (6) is, in many ways, the simplest of the steps, but if done improperly, it can annul
all of the work done in steps (1) through (5).

       The quality of a translation depends primarily upon:

               The quality of the "source language" document;
               The degree of subject-specific knowledge acquired by the translator;
               The level of "source language" and "target language" proficiency of the translator;
               The translator's diligence and attention to detail.

       Approaches to Translation

       Although the process of translation is essentially the same in all cases, a variety of
approaches are in use, largely determined by the translator's personality and experience. The
approach to translation can also depend on the type of document to be translated and its
purpose. For example, when translating a patent document, I like to translate the Claims last,
even though they appear first in a Japanese patent document.

       While most translators keyboard their work, some translators prefer to dictate their
translations, and some translators use "machine assisted translation" software in preparing
their rough drafts. The reason given is that both of these approaches increase output speed and
productivity. There are great advantages to dictating, especially when translating documents
that are very familiar and that contain few ambiguities. But if not done properly, dictation can
lead to things getting "lost" or misplaced in the translation. Haste makes waste. In any case, the
accuracy checking step cannot be overlooked. "Machine assisted translation" can sometimes
work for documents that are very consistent and very repetitive. Of course, there are various
levels of "machine assistance" that can be provided by computer software, but in most cases,
although some of the simpler aspects of translation (those that involve "code switching") can be
speeded up, there is really no substitute for the careful and attentive human touch. After all, the
original text was prepared by human beings.

       Some translators like to prepare a rough "literal" translation first, then go over it later
and make it more readable. Others assume that an "editor" will fix up anything that is
inaccurate. I consider that a very poor approach, because elaboration of a poorly drafted text
6                                                                                     John Bukacek

leads to the compounding of errors. It is better to do everything one can to get it right the first
time so that whatever changes have to be made later will be minor Of course, it is sometimes
necessary to include tentative translations. The meaning of a particular term, abbreviation,
acronym, or eponym may not be obvious until one delves into the text and its extra-linguistic
context more deeply. Research is sometimes required to determine the meaning, and
consequently, the most accurate translation. The translator must also be familiar with the mode
of technical writing in the particular field.

        I believe that the subconscious mind plays a very significant role in the process of
translation. I have often had the experience of trying to decide the best way to translate a
troublesome passage, and having exhausted all available reference and research resources, I let
the problem go from my conscious mind, turn it over to my subconscious mind, and focus my
conscious mind on something else. Later, it will suddenly occur to me what the best choice is, or
how to find out. That is because my subconscious mind was actively at work on the problem all
along. It is often useful to step outside the conscious aspect of the translation process, let the
subconscious work on it, and then return to the conscious aspect. Unfortunately, we do not
always have that luxury because of deadline pressure! However, I have often found that when I
have a problem, either professional or personal in nature, I can find the solution by releasing it to
my subconscious mind. When faced with a difficult problem, I try to step back from it and ask
myself, "What is really important here?" That is, of course, a question of judgment, and human
judgment can very often be faulty.

        Before Getting Started

        I frequently get calls from people who say they are interested in becoming translators,
and who are asking how to get started. I always tell them that they must first do some soul-
searching. They need to examine carefully and honestly their motives for embarking on
translation as an occupation, and to assess as realistically as they can their potential for success
in the business. One question I always ask them is, "Have you ever done a translation before?"
The answers range from "never have" from wanna-bes, to "quite a lot" from people who have
years of experience with in-house translation and now want to break into full-time freelance
        I always ask people about their background in language. I am amazed at how many
people say they have studied Japanese for one year and now want to become translators. I am
afraid that they have been told "o-jozu desu ne" so many times that it has gone to their heads! I
have to tell them that much more study is necessary. And they should live in Japan for a while
and experience something of the culture. There is always a cultural subcontext, even in scientific
and technical documents. I have also received calls from Japanese nationals who have gone no
further than studying English in their local schools for six years, and still want to be translators.
This surprises me greatly, because I would think they would be suffering from "honyaku-sho" so
severely that they would never even think of becoming translators! And on top of that, they
almost always think they can translate into English. I tell them that the general rule of thumb
in our profession is that the translator translates from the foreign language and into the native
language. Of course, there are exceptions, but they truly are exceptions. After all, writing is the
most difficult of all language skills, and it is difficult to write well even in one's "native"
language, let alone a "foreign" language.

       The truth is that knowledge of a foreign language is a necessary, but not a sufficient
condition, to become a translator. Many additional skills and aptitudes are required. A
translator must be able to write well in the target language. The terminology, phraseology, and
speech level of the translation must be accurate, up-to-date, and appropriate to the specific
context and audience. In order to achieve this, the translator must have an understanding of the
subject matter of the text, and the translator must know how to write in the specialized jargon of
the field. This does not necessarily mean that the translator has to be an "expert" in the field,
but to a significant degree, the translator needs to have acquired knowledge of the field through
schooling, work experience, and self-study. Some translations require expertise that the
translator cannot possibly possess, and this is particularly true of certain types of
interdisciplinary work. In many cases, it is the client who possesses the necessary subject-
specific expertise and expertise related to a particular document, and the translator should not
feel embarrassed to ask the client for help. Clients would much rather work with an honest
translator than with a translator who makes false claims of "expertise" in a field, or an agency
that claims to do "all languages and all subjects." Some agencies claim to provide terminology
assistance to translators, but in many cases, the questions that arise are not about terminology
but about the meaning and background of certain portions of the text. It is a good idea to ask the
client for as much background material as possible before beginning a translation.
        Obviously, it is not appropriate for the translator to go running to the client with every
question that comes up while working on a translation. A translator needs to know how to do
research on the terminology and concepts appearing in the source language text. The translator
should, of course, have specialized bilingual dictionaries in his or her chosen fields of
concentration. Beyond that, the translator must be familiar with other research tools to help
unravel knotty questions of meaning that can arise in the course of doing a translation. In
addition, all kinds of vexing issues can come up that are not necessarily issues of translation, but
must be dealt with: personal names and place names, geographical entities, company names,
company-specific terminology, out-of-date terminology, specialized symbols, katakana
abbreviations, typographical errors, and so forth. Handwritten documents can present special
challenges, especially if the penmanship is poor, and the only copy the client can provide is a
third-generation fax!

       Although finding the appropriate scientific and technical terminology is certainly
difficult, the really hard part about translating is dealing with the everyday language that links
and gives context and relevance to the specialized terms. I do not mean to downplay the
terminological difficulties encountered in translation. Dictionaries are often filled with errors.
Standard terminology is sometimes used in nonstandard and idiosyncratic ways. Nonstandard
terminology is sometimes used as if it were standard. New terms are being coined all the time,
especially in leading-edge technologies. Scientific fields and technologies that previously were
considered separate are now merging to form new fields with concepts requiring new
terminology. There is now so much interdisciplinary work being done that no dictionary, even in
electronic form, could possibly be large enough or current enough to contain all the terms needed
to translate in rapidly developing fields of technology. This forces translators to do
terminological research using a variety of sources.

       In addition to the daily task of researching factual and technical details involved in any
particular translation job, there two very practical things a translator can do to improve
translation skill on a long-term basis:

               1.        Read widely in the source language and in the target language.

               2.        Study translations done by other translators, and have other translators
                         study your translations, and exchange feedback.
        Perfectionism in an Imperfect World

        One of the most interesting psychological attributes of translators is perfectionism. The
attribute of perfectionism presents a paradox. The documents we are called on to translate are
not necessarily perfect themselves, but we are expected to render them into the target language
faithfully and accurately. On the other hand, we know that translators can at times be very
sloppy and turn out work that is unacceptable ,by any standard. Sometimes this is due to
inexperience, sometimes because of unreasonable deadlines, and sometimes it is out of laziness
and lack of attention to detail. Of course, this can happen in any Profession, and is certainly not
unique to the field of translation. In the final analysis, the most important attitude of any
professional is to be willing and able to learn from one's mistakes, and to apply what one has
learned so as to further improve the quality of the work.

       Although translators are perfectionists, we know from experience that perfection is
unattainable. We are human, after all, and we live in an imperfect world. And though we strive
to produce the most perfect product we can, we know that in many cases, perfection in
translation is an impossible goal. I firmly believe that the paradox of perfectionism can be
resolved only with the realization that we are providing our clients with a service, not simply a
product. In the context of our profession, excellence means serving the needs of our clients by
making every possible effort to appropriately convey the meaning of the source language text in
the target language document. We must recognize our limitations, while at the same time
making continual efforts to transcend those limitations and build on our strengths. Ultimately,
we can provide appropriate service only when we understand the needs of our clients. Although
we may feel that what we want to achieve is perfection, I believe that what we are really striving
for is excellence. Excellence is a habit of mind that can be cultivated only through a
developmental process involving continual improvement through hard work and self-discipline.

       One of the most beautiful aspects of our profession is that there is always more to learn.
The intellectual stimulation provided by what we learn about our world and about ourselves
through the process of translation can give us a great deal of pleasure, and we can gain
considerable satisfaction in knowing that we are making a significant contribution to the
advancement of knowledge and understanding between different cultures.
       September 8, 1997

       John F. Bukacek is a Japanese-English technical translator with concentration in
chemistry and biotechnology. He translates Japanese patent documents, scientific and technical
papers, reports, manuals, catalogs and brochures. His clients include it wide range of North
American, Japanese, and European high-tech companies, law firms, and consulting firms . He is
the founding administrator of the Japanese Language Division of the American Translators
Association. He served on the Board ofDirectors of the ATA from 1988 to 1991.

       6171 North Sheridan Road #2510
       Chicago, IL 60660-5843 USA
      Phone: 773-508-0352
      Fax: 773-508-5479
      E-mail: 747371661@CompuServe.corn
     ATA Publishes Translation and Interpretation
      Services Survey
     By Shawn Six

             he first edition of the American      $44,939; part-time in-house private sector personnel earned

     T       Translators Association's Trans-
          - lation and Interpretation Services
     Survey is out and available. The survey
                                                   $22,284; company owners earned $130,573 (The Company:
                                                   Owner results were inconsistent. It is apparent that som
                                                   responses included total gross income of the company, while
      is based -on more than 850 responses         others included only compensation to the owner himself/herself.',
      from people in the translation and inter-    educators earned $24,654; and government employees earned '
      pretation professions. This valuable         $36,590. Overall, ATA members earned more than non-AT/
      resource includes compensation data,         members and those with ATA accreditation earned more than
      trend information, education and experi-     those without ATA accreditation. Respondents reported receiv
      ence levels, and other profile informa-      ing 79 percent of their translation and interpretation incom
      don on seven common employment               from translating and 21 percent from interpretation.
      classifications found in the translation
      and interpretation professions.              Trends
          The survey was compiled, tabulated,         More than half of all respondents (60 percent) reported that
      and prepared for the American Trans-         their 1998 translation and interpretation income increase
      lators Association by Industry Insights,     compared to 1997. The remaining 40 percent was split evenly:
      Inc., a professional research and con-       between those reporting a decrease (20 percent) and those
     sulting firm that provides management         reporting no change (20 percent).
     and marketing services to dealer organi-
     zations, franchise operations, and pro-       Education and Experience
     fessional trade associations and their            Three out of four respondents had achieved either a master'
     members. The company specializes in           de gree (41 percent) or a bachelor's degree (34 percent). One
     compensation and benefits studies,            fifth reported having a degree in translation, while 9 percen
     industry operating surveys, member            reported a degree in interpretation. One-third reported having ;
     needs studies, educational programs,          certificate in translation, while 21 percent reported having ;
     and customized research activities.           certificate in interpretation. Other credentials reported include
         The seven employment classifica-          court certification (15 percent), passing the State Departmen
     tions analyzed in this report include:        exam (9 percent), and passing the UN exam (1 percent).
     full-time independent contractors, part-          More than half of all respondents have been in the transla
     time independent contractors, full-time       tion and interpretation professions for over 10 years. Nearly ;
     in-house private sector personnel, part-      one-fourth had five or fewer years of employment, while (
     time in-house private sector personnel,       another one-fourth had between 6 and 10 years of experience
     company owners, educators, and gov-
     ernment employees. For detailed               Areas of Specialization
     analysis, responses were broken down             The most common areas of specialization reported wen
     by geographic region, education, years        business (63 percent), law (47 percent), industry and technolo-
     of employment, language combina-              gy (43 percent), arts and humanities (37 percent), medicine (3.
     tions, ATA membership status, and             percent), and computers (32 percent). Non-common areas of;
     ATA accreditation status. This compre-        specialization included pure sciences (6 percent), natural sci-
     hensive data allows users to compare          ences (14 percent), and entertainment (14 percent).
     their own income to individuals in sim-
     ilar situations.                              Technology
                                                               The most commonly used technology tools in the
     Income                                         ranslio
                                                   tand interpretation professions were the computer (97 per-
        Full-time independent contractors                   cent), Internet (87 percent), modem (86 percent), and CD-
     earned an average 1998 gross income                    ROM (70 percent). Voice recognition software/dictation sys-
     from translation and interpretation of                 tems (6 percent) and machine assisted/machine translatior
     $51,848; part-time independent con-                    software (10 percent) were used sparingly by those responding
     tractors earned $17,748; full-time in-                 to the survey.
     house private sector personnel earned
20                                                                                      ATA Ch ronicle • October 1999
Miscellaneous                                                       much greater detail than in this summa-
   Two-thirds of the respondents were female. Roughly 61            ry. The complete report, which is avail-
percent of all respondents were born outside the United States.     able to ATA members for $45 and non-
The vast majority (93 percent) were members of the American         members for $60, includes charts and
Translators Association.                                            tables that provide a detailed profile of
                                                                    each of the seven employment classifi-
Methodology                                                         cations mentioned in this article. It is
   The survey questionnaire was mailed to approximately             important to remember that the statis-
3,100 ATA members and 3,100 non-members in April, 1999. In          tics published by ATA are not absolute
total, 861 completed and useable survey forms were returned         standards. ATA intends the survey to
directly to Industry Insights, Inc. This represents a response      reveal general tendencies in the indus-
rate of 14 percent. Forms received after the final deadline and     try, not exact amounts.
questionnaires with incomplete information were not included.          For more information and to order
   Upon receipt, all data were checked both manually and by         a copy of ATA's Translation and
a specially designed computer editing procedure. Strict confi-      Interpretation Services Survey, see
dence of survey responses was maintained throughout the             the order form on the bottom of this
course of the project. Final results were tabulated, and the        page or contact ATA Headquarters at
report was completed in August 1999.                                (703)683-6100; fax: (703)683-6122:
Other Information
   The American Translators Association's 40-page Translation
and Interpretation Services Survey presents the survey results in
                                Letter to a Young Translator                                                                  Champe is the founding
                                                                                                                                 director of the
                                                                                                                              Translation Laboratory
                                              BY Gertrud Graubart Champe
                                                                                                                                at the University of
Note.. The following was written by Dr. Gertrud Graubart Champe to a Russian teenager whose work was sent                     Iowa and is a member
                                             to ATA by her mother.                                                             of the ATA Board of
    Dear Colleague-to-be:                                         with needs an introduction. Not many people are
    The text you sent me is of great interest. It is not          aware of the events you are writing about. However,
common for a high school student to translate so                  the present introduction needs attention. One of your
well. You have an ear for the language and a passion             high school teachers can help you with this as well,
for your work, and so it is a pleasure to take you seri-          either directly or by finding you a mentor. I'll give you
ously and to discuss your dream of becoming a trans-              a few comments of my own, but I leave it up to you to
lator with you.                                                  judge them and perhaps to respond to them by mak-
    As for your immediate project, you probably real-            ing some changes.
ize that a great deal remains to be done before you can               In my opinion, using facts instead of an overabun-
submit it to a press. (By the way, you should never              dance of adjectives will allow you to achieve a greater
send out a translation without including the original.           emotional effect on your reader. Don't tell us "touch-
Without it, it is impossible to evaluate your text com-          ing," "terrifying," or "riveting." Speak calmly and let
pletely.) I can assure you that the work will be worth           your readers catch fire from your firm, clear rendering
it. With some well-planned effort, you will have a               of what is there. When you make strong, definite
good translation. and soon. Here is a sort of master             statements about facts included in your text. I encour-
plan. short and long term, which I suggest to you.               age you to show clearly what you base them on. But
                                                                 be sure we know which of the ideas and facts are
 Short term goal: publication of the
                                                                 yours and which are someone else's: documentation
present work
                                                                 is very important. In general. remember that the task
       One of the methods translators use to polish their
                                                                 of the introduction is to make sure your readers know
work is to let other people read their translations and
                                                                 how your text fits into a broad historical and cultural
comment on them. This may sound a little painful to
                                                                 scheme. In almost all cases. this is more important for
you, but believe me, it can be very advantageous to
                                                                 us to know than what you, the translator. happen to
come face to face with your audience.
                                                                 think about it.
       First of all, let's look at the language of your trans-
 lation. While it is very clear and agreeable for the            Long term goal: your education as a translator
most part, I suggest you should, maybe with the help                 If you really want to become a translator. you
 of your high school English teacher. approach the cre-          must prepare, prepare, prepare. Let me give you
 ative writing department at the nearest university to           some suggestions based on my own experience as a
 see whether one of the students is interested in being          practitioner and teacher of translation. It's not a com-
 your translation partner. This person should not know           plete study plan, but it will give you something to
 the source language, or at least not very well. so that         think about as you consider your future.
 you can see whether your translation is really com-             •   Very few people can make a liv-
 municating with a person who can't read between the                 ing by translating only literary
 lines. Together, throu g h conversation, you will find              works. You should prepare your-
 the best solutions.                                                 self to translate other material as
       Working with a more experienced writer who can                well, and always aim for excel-
 acquaint you in detail with new intricacies of the style            lence. Besides being good for
and structure of the English language will teach you                 your soul, this does wonders for
 nuch more than just giving your work to an editor,                  your reputation.
and the resulting text will be much livelier. In addi-           •   Cultivate your translation ability
  ion, a student in a writers' workshop will be as                   by knowing both the structure
interested in publication as you are and will want to help           and literary traditions of the lan-
you find a publisher, which is a difficult and time                  guages you are proficient in.
consuming task.                                                      Constantly read a great deal in
       Try to have the project approved for academic                 these languages (material should
  :redit by your high school teachers. In this way you               range from literary works to the
  vill be able to devote more of your study time to the              backs of cereal boxes). Engage
project, and you'll be able to get valuable responses                in a careful study of the grammar,
  Mm your classmates and teachers.
       You are right to think that the text you are working                   Continued on page 28

                                                                                16                               ATA Chronicle - August 1996      27
                                                   knowledge and understanding, and a terrific         once and for all to be a translator, having a
Letter                                             cross-trainin g effect, learn Latin. If your        field of expertise will make you fast, accurate,
Continued from page 27                             school does not offer Latin. I can heartily rec-    and authoritative far beyond the average.
  syntax, semantics, and the politics of lan-      ommend studying it on your own, usin g Lain
  guage planning in the various countries         for Reading (Knudsvi g , Seligson, and Craig:
                                                                                                           Translation is the brin g ing together of
  speaking these languages.                        University of Michigan Press). This is one of
                                                                                                       information and lan g uage. You must take
• When you go off to colle g e. please             the most intelligent language textbooks I
                                                                                                       every opportunity to become g ood at infor-
  remember that the study of translation at        have ever seen. You will enjoy being able to
                                                                                                       mation retrieval and management. This cov-
  the undergraduate level is not enough.           at least read the other lan g uages that you have
                                                                                                       ers bibliographical reference. both print and
  because there is too much ground to              not studied extensively. Latin gives you a key
                                                                                                       electronic, and mastering the growing capa-
  cover. Besides, the majority of your             not only for Romance lan g uages. but even for
                                                                                                       bilities of text processing technology and
  classmates will still be learning the sec-       German. whose grammar is significantly
                                                   influenced by Latin. Choose one modern              the Internet. Most particularly, being good
  ond lan g uage at a level significantly                                                              at information handling requires a mastery
  below yours. So, you will spend as much          European lan g uage to learn thoroughly and
                  g                                practice si g ht reading in others. Learn a lan-    of the sub-discipline of linguistics called ter-
  time on lan g ua e aquisition as you will
              g                                    guage that few people know—for example. a           minology, which helps you to call things by
  solving tou h and fascinating translation
                                                   Turkish langua g e of the former U.S.S.R., an       their right names and store the result of your
  problems. Start to gather information
                                                   oriental language, or Arabic or Hebrew.             research in that regard.
  about translation programs at the masters
  level now.                                                                                           Theory
                                                  Subject area
                                                                                                           All the areas I have listed will be more
• As a good translator, you should study in           Every successful translator has a subject
  the following areas now while you're                                                                 powerful and significant for you if you use
                                                  of expertise. This can be politics/economics.
  still in high school, and then later, in col-   biological or physical science, industrial           the history and theory of translation to guide
  lege. and in graduate school:                   engineerin g , etc. My own field is medical sci-     your understanding of them.
                                                  ence. I have also done a lot of translating in           The profile of the American translator is
Linguistics                                                                                            still in a stage of development and growth.
                                                  machine design and maintenance. You can't
    You must know something not only about                                                             This makes it hard to give you clear-cut
                                                  ima g ine how fun it is to learn how to read
general linguistics, but also about semantics.                                                         advice, but it means that the profession can
                                                  blueprints or find out how something works
syntax, pragmatics, discourse analysis, histo-                                                         still be shaped by the young. You have a
                                                  from someone who really knows. The advan-
ry of language. etc., because a good transla-                                                          wide horizon and the prospect of different
                                                  tages of having a field or two are great. and
tor is always thinking deep thoughts about
                                                  you should start early so you can find your          kinds and modes of translation work we
how different languages work, and needs an
                                                  best specialization at your own pace. You            don't even predict today. The things that
awareness of the concepts and a knowledge
                                                  might even consider an undergraduate major           won't change, however, are the qualities that
of the words to do it with.
                                                  in a subject field with a double major or a          make a really good translator: imagination.
Languages                                         strong minor in language. This doubling of           curiosity, and the willingness to work how-
   If you have the energy and ambition to be      your studies will do two things for you. It will     ever hard it takes to understand the source
an outstanding translator, start learning more    give you added flexibility in planning your          text and make a target text that others can
languages as soon as possible. For overall        studies and your career, and, if you decide          understand. Good luck!                AT

28 ATA Chronicle • August 1996
                 First-Timers Find ATA
              Conference Well Worth Cost
                                 by Ann Sherwin
                with contributions from Etsu Nair and Alice Glenn
  Reprinted from the Winter 1997 issue of the CATI Quarterly with permission.

W    orking up the resolve to attend
     an ATA conference for the first
     time is perhaps the hard part.
                                           an interesting conversation at the
                                           table. Overall I was glad that I
                                           went to the conference, even though
     But two of our members took the       my income from
plunge this year and joined the            interpretation/translation doesn't
pilgrimage to the Hyatt Regency Hotel      quite justify the trip to San
in San Francisco on November 5-9. In       Francisco. Since I had decided to
the hope of inspiring many more of you     leave IBM at the end of the year to
to follow their example next year,         become a full-time
when the conference will be in our own     translator/interpreter/software
back yard, we share with you these         consultant, this conference came at
"first impressions" submitted by Etsu      a good time and confirmed my
Nair and Alice Glenn.                      decision. Thanks, Ann, for
                                           encouraging me to go. You were
From Etsu Nair:                            right.
   "I got my money's worth and more!"
That is my summary of my first ATA
conference experience, and I am
already looking forward to the next
one. After a short trip to Japan, I
was ready to absorb everything about
the interpretation/translation
business, and the conference met my
expectations. It gave me an
opportunity to network with other
people in this business, and it also
confirmed that software localization
for Japanese is really happening.
   I was impressed with how smoothly
and professionally everything was run
during the conference, despite the
record attendance of almost 1700
people. Every session I attended
started on time, and the presenters
were well prepared. A Chicago-based
study group for Japanese<>English
translators and interpreters even held
a session after dinner that lasted
until 11:00 p.m. It was very
informative for me. My sharing the
hotel room with another ATA member
worked out well also. She was an
experienced conference participant and
had lots of good advice on how to get
started in the business.
   The only thing that I may not
repeat next time was the Table Topics
Luncheon. While it was a nice lunch,
there was not enough common ground for
From Alice Glenn:                         and election were relatively calm.
   My take on the ATA's annual           Two amendments that would have given
conference was that it was well worth    the vote to associate members were
the $185 registration fee. It was my     defeated. The first version (no
first conference and my first trip to    waiting period) had 174 votes for,
San Francisco. I was not bored. I        284 against. The second (1-year
arrived late Wednesday afternoon and     waiting period) had 114 for, 247
was feeling so tired that I did not      against. ATA is now taking a closer
want to attend the opening reception.    look at the matter of making it
But I did and immediately ran into the   easier for qualified associate
director of New York University's        members to attain active status (see
translation program (where I studied)    box at right).
and then you. The energy was electric,       As the host chapter for the next
a buzz of people talking in many         conference, CATI enjoyed high
different languages. The Hyatt Regency   visibility. The chapter tables were
was in a great location and beautiful.   located in a high-traffic area, and
All the employees were pleasantly        we had a central location opposite
attentive to our needs. On the exhibit   the escalators. Thanks to Monique
floor I spent most of my time at         Glass and. Rob Croese, our table was
i.b.d., Ltd.'s table and treated         skirted with a large banner bearing
myself to some new dictionaries. I       the CATI logo and the next
also set up an account with UPS.         conference site and dates. Many
   Many of my questions regarding        people stopped to ask about Hilton
translation were answered in the         Head. By Friday afternoon our supply
sessions. Agencies told exactly what     of South Carolina tourist brochures
they were looking for on a résumé, and   was depleted, and Saturday morning
professional translators spoke in        we gave out our last embroidered
"dollars-and-sense" detail about         palmetto sticker. We promoted the
billing and time management. I was       CATI directory to every visitor at
surprised to see so many international   our table with a company name badge
attendees.                               and sold all 30 copies I had brought
   "If you're not networking, you're     along. We also handed out 200 sample
not working" was one of the overheads    issues of the CATI Quarterly.
in a session I attended.                     On Saturday, ten members and
Specialization was an important theme.   friends of CATI left the hotel to
The conference provided a lovely         have a leisurely lunch at the
setting and ample opportunities for      Palomino Euro Bistro right beside
networking. You couldn't help it!        the Golden Gate Bridge. Members who
"Translators are everywhere," my         presented sessions at the conference
husband commented.                       or helped staff our table are
   I also took a day to tour the city    acknowledged on page 12..a
with my husband, and we visited Muir
Woods and saw the giant redwoods for     The contributors to this article are
the first time. It was a trip of a       free-lancers from North Carolina.
lifetime.                                Etsu Nair of Apex works with
                                         Japanese; Alice Glenn of Durham,
From Ann Sherwin:                        with French; and Ann Sherwin of
   Despite a controversial issue on      Raleigh, with German.
the ballot, this year's annual meeting
Gates is a trial attorney
                                          Contracting to Provide Translation Services
 with Maupin Taylor
 Ellis & Adams, PA.,
                                                                   By James E. Gates and Ana E. Gray
  in Raleigh. North
                            (Reprinted from the CATI Quarterly, newsletter           translator. Be sure to follow through on the
   Gray is an attorney
                            of the Carolina Association of Translators and           responsibilities such a clause places upon you.
from Lima, Peru, and a
                            Interpreters, Winter 1996, pp. 4-5.)                        Fee provisions. Make sure all fee provisions
  visiting lecturer at
                                                                                     are clear. You do not want there to be ambiguity

 North Carolina State
 University in Raleigh.
                                     ot   all contracts used to hire independent about either your rate of compensation or the
                                       translators are created equal. Some are       amount of work you will do. If possible, review the
                                       short, some are long; some are complex,       text for specific projects before agreeing to accept
                             and some are simple. Nevertheless, when consider- the projects. Ideally, the contract will state that the
                             ing a contract to provide translation services, there translator will be paid for any changes in the orig-
                             are a number of points you should always keep in        inal assignment. If there is no such provision, con-
                             mind. Here are a few of the most important:             sider adding it, or, at the very least, get written con-
                                 Get it in writing. The most basic principle is      firmation that the client agrees to pay for specific
                             to make sure that your agreement is in writing.         changes submitted to you before you begin work-
                             While oral contracts are no less binding than writ-     ing on them. Contracts should, and typically do, set
                             ten ones, it is generally much more difficult to        due dates for payment, such as 30 days from sub-
                             prove the existence and terms of an oral contract.      mission of the translation. If the contract lacks
                             If a full-fledged contract cannot be obtained, at       such a provision, consider adding it. Provisions
                             least confirm the terms of the a g reement in a let- assessing monthly interest for late payment and
                             ter to the client at the time the agreement is          any costs of collection, including reasonable attor-
                             reached. Similarly, all changes to the agreement        ney's fees, can be used to help ensure timely pay-
                             should be confirmed in writing with the client at ment, although it is likely to be difficult to obtain
                             the time they are made.                               ..agreement to such provisions.
                                 Read the entire contract carefully. The good           Quality. Beware of provisions which allow
                             feeling of establishing a relationship with a new      clients to make deductions from your compensa-
                             client, representations made by the client over the tion when they determine that the quality of the
                             telephone, and the belief that no terms in a form translation is deficient. A more appropriate
                            contract can be changed are all factors which can       approach is to require the translator to correct any
                             lull you into signing a contract proposed by a         mistakes at the translator's own expense.
                            client. Do not make the mistake of signing a con-           Noncompetition. Contracts proposed by
                             tract without reading it thoroughly. The contract      translation agencies often prohibit the translator
                            defines your legal rights, and while it may appear from working directly for clients of the agency.
                            to be a mere formality at the outset, it will be the    You should ensure that the provision applies only
                            determining factor in the event of a dispute. It is     to your knowingly soliciting or accepting work
                            simply not true that terms in a form contract can       from the agency's clients. You may also want to
                            never be changed. The client may well accept            li mit it to those clients whose work the agency
                            changes depending upon, among other things, has subcontracted to you. Another consideration
                            their importance to the client and the ur g ency of is the duration of the noncompetition provision.
                            the project at hand. By reading the contract, you The translator will obviously want as short a
                            may find the terms so onerous that you simply           duration as possible. The provision may specify a
                            have to say "no." If you do not understand the pro-     period (for example, one, two, or three years) or
 Reports in this column
                            posed deal after reading the contract, consider tak-    not address duration at all. Paradoxically, the
  discussing statutes,
                            ing it to a lawyer for further explanation. A little specification of an unreasonably long period or
  court decisions, and
                            money spent up front for that type of legal advice      no period at all could render the entire provision
 other legal rulings and
                            can save you much more money down the line.             unenforceable. The area of noncompetition
principles are intended
                                Independent contractor status. Contracts            clauses is a complicated and ever-changing one.
 solely for information
                            used by translation companies and other clients A translator having questions or concerns regard-
 purposes and should
                            typically contain a provision stating that the trans-   ing such a provision should consult a lawyer.
not be applied to actual
                            lator is not an employee, but an independent con-           Confidentiality. It is appropriate for the con.:
legal problems without
                            tractor. The purpose of these provisions are to         tract to require the translator to treat the original
  prior review by your
                            eliminate any obligation on the part of the client material and the translation as confidential.
                            to pay any employment taxes or benefits to the                                          Continued on page 17
Contracting                                    where any lawsuit re g arding the con-       for such alternative dispute resolution in
Continued from page 16                         tract must be filed. It will almost always   their contracts. Form language and
                                               be to your benefit to have the law of        other information regarding these dis-
Nevertheless, the requirement should not       your home state apply to the contract.       pute mechanisms can be obtained from
apply to material which becomes public         Similarly, if there is a lawsuit, you will   groups such as the American Arbitration
through no fault of the translator. Nor        almost always be better off if it is         Association as well as through many
should the provision apply to termino-         brought in your home state. Indeed, if it    lawyers.
logical data compiled by the translator        is you who is bringing the lawsuit, the         Completeness. Contracts usually
during the course of the translation,          extra cost and other burdens of suing in     include provisions, called integration
unless the translator is paid for such data.   another state could be an insurmount-        clauses, stating that the contract contains
If you wish to retain a copy of the origi-     able barrier. Recognizing .that fact,        the complete agreement of the parties.
nal material and translation for your files,   North Carolina law actually renders          These clauses make it more difficult to
it is best to include a clause in the con-     unenforceable certain forum selection        argue at . a later date that key terms were
tract which provides for such retention.       clauses in North Carolina contracts.         left out, including promises made orally.
    Choice of the forum selection.             Dispute resolution mechanisms, such as       Particularly if such an integration clause
Contracts often contain a provision,           mediation and arbitration, offer transla-    appears in the contract, make sure that all
called a choice of law clause, specifying      tors a much cheaper and quicker means        terms of importance to you are set out in
which state's law will apply to the con-       of resolving contract disputes than tra-     the written agreement. Otherwise you
tract. There may also be a provision,          ditional litigation. Translators should      may find it impossible to have them
called a forum selection clause, stating       consider adding provisions providing         added to The deal later on.        AT

                                                                                                ATA Chronicle • January 1997        17
                                             The Translator as Global Contractor

                                                                                                 By Marga Hannon

         ecently, I received a change of address notification           50 to 55 characters (including spaces).
         from a fellow translator. In his message he empha-             Some clients may be prepared to pay per
         sized that, despite moving to a different time zone, he        word if asked for it, but it is not standard.
would still be available to his clients from Europe and from            Before agreeing to a line rate, you will
the West at the same hours as before. (In our office, we will           have to do your math and compare
answer the telephone from 7a.m. Pacific Standard or Daylight            words and lines in a document. For an
Time [fortunately, we are early risers] to accommodate our              approximation, see the next section.
German clients.)
    The widespread use of e-mail and/or FT P sites for transmit-
ting source documents and returning the translated work has              ... Working for clients in other countries
reduced distance to a non-issue. Communication via e-mail has
                                                                         can be lucrative, but it also poses a set
made inroads on telephone talk, even though a quick call
sometimes seems unavoidable...and is not always welcome                  of new challenges...
(see Dealing with the Time Difference, page 30).
    Particularly for translators working from German-to-
English, translation requests from German agencies or com-              Estimating Length and Time of a
panies seeking native speakers living in their language envi-           Project
ronment have become commonplace. Many German trans-                        There is this new client from
lators listed in translators' directories on the Web can attest         Germany who requires 340 lines from
to translation inquiries not only from German-speaking                  German-to-English for the day after
countries or the U.K., but also from places associated with             tomorrow. Is this manageable? We all
neither English or German. The ever-growing number of                   know how many words we can approx-
Canadian translators joining the ATA is certainly an indica-            imately translate in a text of a certain
tion of intense cross-border competition between two                    difficulty per day, but not so many of
friendly neighbors.                                                     us will know their average translation
    Individual translators are increasingly becoming global             speed in lines.
contractors. Working for clients in other countries can be lucra-          If you need to convert lines to
tive, but it also poses a set of new challenges. This article           words without access to the electronic
attempts to discuss some of the issues related to the interna-          file, this formula is based on empir-
tional translation trade from the perspective of a translator           ical experience:
working between German and English. It is neither complete,
nor will it offer ready-made solutions for all problems. I very            The number of lines multiplied by
much hope that other translators will want to contribute their             9-10 for an English source text
experience and insight on the topic.                                       and by 8 for a German text
                                                                           approximates the word count for
The Basis for Reimbursement—Word Count, Line Count,                        a document, if your basis is 55
or What?                                                                   characters per line.
    In the U.S., translators are paid per word. The word count is
mostly based on the target document, even though there are                 You can check this by opening a
also agencies that will use a source-language count. In Canada,         document at random, dividing the
it is more common to reimburse translators for the word count           character count (include spaces) by 55
in the source document.                                                 to obtain the line count (don't use the
    German, as we all know, makes do with fewer words than              line count in the Word window), then
English for the same text. This has obvious implications on the         multiply it by 8 or 9 and compare the
grand financial total of a project. While some agencies take            result to the word count of the docu-
this into account by either offering a higher word rate for work        ment. In our example here, the client is
from English-to-German (target count) or adding a percentage            asking you to translate approximately
(source count), others do not.                                          2,720 words.
    In Germany, the common practice for billing and paying for
translation service is per line, one line consisting of an average of                        Continued on p. 30

ATA Chronicle • March 2000                                                                                              29
The Translator as Global Contractor Continued

    For a larger project, your German          Do not expect your clients to be aware of the exact time dif-
client may want the translation to be       ference between their location and yours. North America, after
completed in the 39th week. Are you         all, has several time zones. However, they are at least as
baffled? German calendars usually have      uncomfortable as you are after waking you up at 5:30 in the
a week count, and the week number is        morning, or if your file arrived at a different time from when
quite frequently used as a reference.       they expected. So do educate them and let them know at what
    But don't pull out your North           time you will answer the telephone.
American calendar and start counting.
There is an international standard, DIN     Checking Client Solvency and Payment Practices
EN 28601, which regulates the week             When contacted by an agency or company you have never
count in Germany. If you don't have         heard of, you will want some information about their solvency
access to a German calendar, an             and payment practices. It is certainly reasonable to ask about
Australian one will also do (they use       payment periods and practices during the initial contact and
the same convention), or simply follow      negotiations. If the client does not send you a contractual
the guidelines established by the           agreement, you may want to consider submitting a standard
German National Metrology Institute):       translator-client contract to them.
"...the first week of the year is the one       I am aware of two mailing lists where subscribers provide
that includes the first Thursday."          information about companies and their payment practices to
Remember that the German week               each other. Payment Practices, a strictly monitored list, is based
starts on Monday. Accordingly, the          in Montreal, Canada, and maintained by Karin Adamczyk. You
first week of the year 2000 began           can find more information about this list and its subgroups at
Monday, January 3. Your Excel pro-          http://www.pages.infinitnet/karining . Another, albeit unmoder-
gram may present you with a U.S.            ated, list is Zahlungsmoral, maintained by Dr. Stanislaw
week count, which does not follow the       Gierlicki, a German-Polish translator. You can find more infor-
above DIN standard.                         mation about this list at

Dealing with the Time Difference            Payment in which Currency?
   The time difference between your            If you work for a client in Germany or elsewhere in Europe,
office and your client's is crucial for     you may be able to negotiate payment in those familiar U.S.
communication and deadlines. A due          dollars, particularly if the client has subsidiaries in America.
date for your German client of Tuesday      More likely, though, you will be offered reimbursement in
at 4p.m. means, in effect, that you will    either the currency of the country or in euro (E), the new
need to deliver your document by            European currency which has been negotiable since January 1,
Tuesday at 7a.m. (realistically, Monday     1999. However, the euro Will not be in circulation in the form
night), if you are on Pacific Standard      of bills and coins before 2002. -
Time, or Tuesday at 10a.m. if on Eastern       If you want to have a quick giance at today's exchange rate,
Standard Time. Then there are these         to calculate your earnings or the taxes you may owe, try http://
pesky periods shortly before the end and ic.
beginning of our daylight savings time,
when the German and North American          The Nitty-Gritty of Electronic Money Transfers
concepts of when daylight savings starts        Your German client will not want to send you checks. Nor
and ends do not necessarily coincide...     is it advisable, because your bank at home may not be prepared
   Fortunately, there is the Website of     to negotiate them. In Germany and many other European coun-
the Physikalisch-Technische Bunde-          tries, bills are almost exclusively paid for through the transfer
sanstalt, available in either German or     of money from one account to the other. This is theoretically
English, which has several pages            not a problem internationally either. In practice, it can be cum-
devoted to time, daylight saving, week      bersome and costly for you. When your client's bank does not
count, and so on. The address is            use the same intermediary as your bank, the charges for you         will likely increase and the transfer will take longer. It is
432/dars . h t m.                           worthwhile comparing bank charges for international transfers.
   As the European currency is converted into U.S. dollars
when it enters the country, you have no control over the
exchange rate. Another option, of course, is maintaining an
account in the country where your client(s) reside and initi-
ating a transfer into your account in the U.S. whenever it is
convenient for you.

Liability Issues with International Clientele
    Do you have liability insurance? Rest assured that, for the
most part, all the work you perform within the country
where your insurance is based is covered. As far as work
outside this area is concerned, read the fine print of your
insurance policy. Your projects for clients in Germany,
Switzerland, or elsewhere may or may not be covered. But,
after all, it is America that boasts a reputation as the most
litigious country in the world...

  Finally, taxes. Earnings from foreign countries are tax-
able. For more information, talk to your accountant.

                                      URL's change frequently. Please note that all websites listed
                                      in this article were checked at the time of its first publication
                                      but may not be up to date any more.
                                                                 The Bureau-Freelancer Relationship

                                     A meeting
                                                                                                    By Henry Fischbach

                                                        I had convened on March 28,                            the years the wisdom of maintaining an even
                                                1959, led to the Charter Meeting of the                        course has been questioned and, on occasion. even
                                               "Association of Professional Translators"                       assailed. Historically, translation may have been a
                                      as ATA's immediate predecessor a month later (on                         solitary (and even lonely) pursuit but today it is
                                      May 1, 1959) at New York University. The above                           ideally a symbiotic achievement.
                                      principle of all-inclusiveness was enshrined in                              The advent of instant communications, height-
                                      both. Bylaws were prepared, a Nominating and                             ened commercial competition, and, above all, the
                                      Election Committee was appointed, and the first                          complexities of specialized knowledge now man-
                                      elections were held.' By July 13, 1962, the fledg-                       date a concerted rather than solo approach. The
                                      ing society was officially incorporated as the                           independent translator, a designation I find
                                      "American Translators Association" as a mem-                             preferable to "freelance" or "freelancer," with its
                                      bership corporation in New York State.                                   etymologically mercenary connotation, and
                                         The aim of most human relationships is to max-                        translation bureau can no longer fully master
                                      imize mutual benefits. Relationships among inde-                         today's challenges autonomously. Clearly, their
                                      pendent translators, translation bureaus, and clients                    mutual cooperation in a more or less intimate
                                      are no exception. Since its very inception back in                       association calls for symbiotic teamwork that
                                       1959, ATA's raison d'être has been to "advance the                      will maximize shared benefits. The key to such a
                                      standards of translation and to promote the intel-                       relationship is an understanding or an apprecia-
                                      lectual and material interests of translators..." The                    tion of each partner's special contribution to the
                                      best way to implement this tenet, the founders con                       excellence of the final product. Joint expertise,
                                      chided, was for the fledging Association to be non-                      resources, and professionalism are the essential
                                      restrictive and provide a haven for the entire pro-                      in g redients of a successful translation. As in any
                                      fession, carefully navi g ating between the                              human relationship. mutual loyalty, respect. and
                                      Charybdis of a trade union and the Scylla of a trade                     service are the most powerful incentives to a sat-
                                      association. The seas have been stormy and over                          isfactory business association.

                                           What translators ideally exp ect from translation bureaus
rn General:                                                                                      On Specific Assignments:

&greed remuneration                                                                              Terminology support
   To pay a rate commensurate with the performance speci-                                           To provide access, if requested on major assignments. to
ied (for editing, formatting, tables, references, "rush" ser-                                    any previous translations. specialized glossaries. dictionaries,
vice, or whether the translation is to be of publication grade).                                 or other pertinent reference material available.
Prompt payment                                                                                   Consultation access
   To remit payment within 30 days of billing, or as otherwise                                      To authorize communication with other translators/editors/
'greed in writing (regardless of other factors, notably when                                     lexicographers working on a given project or associated with
he bureau itself is paid).                                                                       the bureau.
Specific deadlines                                                                               Nature and target of text
   To assign a deadline allowing for quality translation yet                                        To inform the translator of the readership and country for
eaving time for bureau processing in keeping with the                                            which the translation is intended, or of any client terminolo-
:lient's requirements.                                                                           gy preferences.
commitments in writing                                                                           Pertinent feedback
                        To state the rate and requirements in writing at the time of                To return edited translations on special follow-up projects,
he assignment, with commitments to be considered binding                                         so as to enable the translator to be kept constantly informed
Onbothparies(vdfuptes).                                                                          and knowledgeable in the interests of both parties.
Respect of professional privacy                                                                  Repeat assignments
                                 To refrain from contacting the translator at his/her place of     To offer work on a continuing basis. especially on the same
Employent(ifacb),ulspeifaythorzd                                                                 subject, since this enhances translator performance, maxi-
do so, and to maintain the privacy of their relationship.                                        mizes terminological consistency, and expedites delivery.
    From the vantage point of half a century as         definition, is an "organization, company, or
both an independent translator and translation          bureau that provides some service for another"
bureau principal, I have attempted to single out        (i.e., welfare or employment agency, etc.) and,
and identify the expectations–more accurately, the      according to another, "a company having a fran-
desiderata–of each partner in this synergistic pro-     chise to represent another" (i.e., a car-dealer
fessional relationship. The points made are by no       agency, insurance agency, etc.); in either case
means static, nor is the listing complete; as condi-    there is little, if any, value added to the final prod-
tions change, so will the expectations. Since this is   uct, which is produced or provided by someone
not an ideal world and all the desiderata may not       else. The same is true of an "agent," defined as "a
be met in each case, each partner must actively         person or business authorized to act on another's
seek to minimize potential areas of friction if both    behalf' (i.e., literary agent or theatrical agent,
are to maximize the mutual benefits. The more           etc.). Here again, the service performed is also
fully these are met, the more lasting and beneficial    largely confined to acting as a go-between: intro-
the relationship will be. I hope that I reflect the     ducing a prospective employee to an employer, a
feelings of most of my fellow translators in reaf-      writer to a publisher, an actor to a producer. etc.
firming the belief that ATA should continue its         Again, there is no or very little value added to the
policy of inclusiveness and nurturing to foster         fmal product. The chief function of an agency or
understanding and respect among all practicioners       agent is therefore, by definition, to act as an inter-
of translation. Pious as it may sound, ongoing          mediary–what some in our profession have called
interdependence based on mutual loyalty, esteem,        a "translation mill" or "envelope switcher." The
and service is essential, if we are all to thrive.      term agency is accurate only in the case of a com-
   For years, I have had a chronic allergy to the       pany which provides no added value to the final
term "agency" and have fought its indiscriminate        product (except for a bill and postage). It could be
use vigorously inside and outside our profession.       maintained, with some justification, that agents or
An agency, according to one major dictionary                                          Continued on page 31

                                What translation bureaus id eally expect from translators
 In General:                                                           On Specific Assignments:
 Business fairness                                                     Adherence to specifications
    To understand that bureaus incur fixed expenses (for editing,         To adhere strictly to the assignment's specifications, as
 salaries, overhead, customer education, promotion/advertising,        provided in writing, with deviations authorized only after
 reference books, etc.).                                               consultation and by mutual agreement.
 Word processing and transmission capabilities                        Checking translation submitted
    To have (or have access to) word processing, FAX, and                 To check translations for completeness and accuracy and
 modem facilities, unless clearly stated that these are not (or       to input editor's corrections if extensive (to be included in the
 not yet) available.                                                  fee quoted by agreement).
 Honest representation of competence                                  Research and consultation
     To claim only proven language and subject expertise (bor-           To undertake all necessary research and indicate any
 derline cases including some general knowledge but no spe-           doubtful terms, abbreviations, or passages in the original
 cific expertise should be openly discussed beforehand).              ("educated guesses" to be clearly labeled).
 Consultation accessibility                                           Lack of subject competence
    To be readily accessible during office hours (and evenings           To notify the bureau immediately of any subject matter
 or weekends, by agreement). "Regular" translators to notify          incompatibility or insufficient terminology resources before
 the bureau of anticipated absences.                                  proceeding with the translation.
 Confidentiality and ethical conduct                                  Observance of deadlines
    To refrain from unethical conduct such as contacting the             To decline deadlines that cannot be met rather than fail to
 bureau's clients or revealing information contained in the           meet those accepted. Never cancel an assignment shortly
 assignments, unless expressly authorized to do so.                   before the translation is due for delivery.

                                                                                                   ATA Chronicle • October 1995       1
The Bureau-Freelancer Relationship
Continued from page 17

 agencies in this sense mi ght play a useful role on
 behalf of independent translators. The designa-
tion is inaccurate, however. in the case of a com-
pany that adds editing, formatting, verification of
specific terminolo g y, client preferences, and
assumes contractual liability, The distinguishing
feature between translation "agency: on the one
hand, and "company" or "bureau. - on the other, is
whether or not it adds the services mentioned
above to the final product. I believe that as pro-
fessional translators we should
clearly make that distinction. After
all, lan g uage is our chosen tool,
and we might as well use it cor-
rectly. This is admittedly a long
explanation. but in my opinion the
distinction is important!     ATA
                 Is This Still Worth It? An Update

                By Jonathan Hine

                           ark Adams looked up at his           silence settled on the class. He knew they knew more than they)
                           translation class from the pit       realized.
                           of the amphitheater. They                "Do you know what the break-even point is?" Their faces
                hated this windowless room. The                 brightened.
                cramped chairs with folding writing                 "The break-even point is where you cover costs with no
                surfaces gave the students nowhere to          profit," Anita said. Marcia and Jed nodded.
                open dictionaries or lay the source                 "He gives you four principles in the article. What are they?"'
                texts next to their translations. He was            Marcia jumped in this time. "You are in it for the money." I
                stuck behind a lectern because the                  "We charge for expertise." said Jed.
                rows of bolted-down chairs prevented                "That is why we charge more," said Mark, writing their
                his walking among the students or cir-         answers on the board. "That is why it is so difficult to put a
                cling the chairs for discussions.              price on what we do. What about principle #3?"
                                                                    "Selling time-based units," said Anita.
                                                                    "What does that mean?"
             ... You have to find out how                           "The only thing you can measure is your time, so you
     much money you need to earn, and                          should be billin g for it."
                                                                    "Yes," Mark said. "That is why we need to keep time sheets.
      then figure out how much work it                         And principle #4?"                                                  I
       takes to earn it. That is called the                        "Some advice for freelancers," Marcia offered. "Don't put
                                                               money from yourself into the business."
                       break-even point...                         It's OK to do it, as long as you document it." said Anita.
                                                                   "You have to keep track of it," added Jed.
                   Normally, he might have a back-                 Mark went to the board. He drew a big T, representing a
                ache from not moving around, but               double-entry accounting ledger sheet. For the next few min-
                today the class was different. These           utes, he explained double-entry accounting in simple terms.
                students were usually active and               The students seemed to understand, but did not react much.
                engaged. Now that they were dis-               Anita and Jed had taken introductory accounting as sopho-
                cussing the practical side of setting up       mores. Mark was not sure about Marcia; he found her harder
                a translation business, the interest           to read than the others. As he finished this part of his lecture,
                level was even higher. The first hour          he made a mental note to use a simple checkbook example next
                and a half had vanished, and it was            time. He moved on to the next point.
                almost time for a break.                           "So what are the three parts of a budget, according to Mr.
                                                               Hine's article?"
                     "Now the article by Mr. Hine'," he            "Personal, operating, and growth and capitalization," said
                 said. The students pulled out their pho-      Anita without looking at her paper.
                 tocopies of the reading assignment. but           Mark looked at the others. "You agree?"
                 did not look at them. "What is it about?"         "Yes, - said Jed. "Customers do move, and if you want the
                     "It's for freelancers." said Anita        business to grow you need money."
                 quickly. With only three students                 "Then what?"
                 today, there was no need to raise                 "Determine the rate," said Marcia.
                 hands. "How to budget. How to calcu-              "How?"
                 late prices."                                     Jed again, "See how many hours you have."
                     "Does he say you can turn down                "Then divide your income requirement by the number of
                jobs?"                                         hours available to get the break-even point," said Anita.
                     "He says you can take a job if it ful-        "Yes," Mark said.
                 fills specific needs."                            He then pulled the screen down in front of the blackboard
                     "`Yes. That is the key. To be aware of
                      ,                                        and projected a transparency of Table I. They discussed how a
                what the job entails. How do you               full-time availability of 2,080 hours in a year shrank to 1,255
                know? Have you had economics or                hours after allowing for sickness, holidays, and overhead.
                accounting?" Mark paused as the                "That is a key number to keep in mind: 1,255. Then if the cus-

18                                                        28                                      ATA Chronicle • August 2000
tomer wants a piece rate, like cents per word, we convert that       bining freelance income with a part-
by figuring out how long the job will take." Mark gestured to        time or full-time job. Consider Table 2,
his head to indicate "keep this in mind."                            the Business Budget Worksheet, on
                                                                     page 20.
Table 1: Finding the Number of Billable Hours                           There should be two kinds of
in a Work Year                                                       entries in the row entitled "Portion
                                                                     coming from other sources."
  Conditions                                   Hours/Year
  52 weeks @ 40 hours/week (full-ti me)           2,080
                                                                        Asset income: money from stocks,
  Less a two-week vacation (80 hours)             2,000
                                                                        bonds, investments, savings accounts,
  Less eleven holidays (8 hours/day)              1,912
                                                                        or allowances from relatives, trusts,
  Less allowance for sick time (10 hours/month) 1,792
                                                                        and so forth. This is income that does
  Less overhead (indirect costs) (e.g., 30%)      1,255
                                                                        not require your working time. For
                                                                        example, you could have purchased
   "The goal is to relate your piece rate to your hourly rate.          the asset(s) with working earnings
Once we know how long the job will take, we calculate what it           earlier or it could be an inheritance or
should cost and 'then divide the number of words, pages, or             a credit union account that is paying
whatever into that. Any questions?" He expected the silence.            dividends. A retirement check would
"OK, let's break until 9:15, then meet in Room 222."                    be an example of an asset income.
   With some cheering over the move to a room with big
tables, the students packed their book bags and left.                2. Salary or wages: income from a job
                                                                        other than the business for which
                                                                        you are calculating the break-even
    The article that Mark Adams (a fictitious name) used in his         point. If the source of money
class for translators appeared in this magazine more than two           requires that you devote time to it. it
years ago. The material in that article has been published as a         belongs in this row.
small booklet' and included in workshops for translators and
interpreters. The basic principles remain the same. You have to         If the entry comes entirely from
find out how much money you need to earn, and then figure out        asset income (see #1 above), then a
how much work it takes to earn it. That is called the break-even     single person should use 40 hours/week
point.                                                               (2,080 hours/year) for the starting point
    Calculating the break-even point is a crucial first step for     in calculating the amount of time they
any businessperson trying to determine how to price a service.       will be available to work on this busi-
When you know the break-even point, you know how low you             ness. If two people are completely free
can afford to go in negotiating a rate for your work.                to work on the business (say, a hus-
   The purpose of this article is to cover three aspects of cal-     band-wife team or two siblings in busi-
culating the break-even point that the first article did not cover   ness together), then the starting number
in depth:                                                            is 80 hours/week, or 40 times the
                                                                     number of people working.
1. Couples and freelancers with multiple sources of income              Do not include the hours of
2. Whether to use target or source text for basing the price         someone who is not actively working
3. Pricing additional services                                       in whatever it is your business does. If
                                                                     a relative is giving you money regu-
Multiple sources of income. When more than one source of             larly to help out, simply enter it in the
income is involved, freelancers need to pay special attention to     "other sources" column. The contribu-
their time availability when calculating the break-even point.       tion will lessen the amount of money
This would apply, for example, to working couples and                you need to earn. If someone is pro-
whether they are both language mediators or working different        viding you services (like a book-
jobs. It would apply to someone making a living from different
part-time jobs. Of course, it applies to a freelancer who is corn-                        Continued on p. 20
     Is This Still Worth It? Continued

     keeper), whether it be your spouse or             Table 2: Business Budget Worksheet
     someone else, pay them and budget for
     the expense (under "fees," for                      ITEM                                      MONTH        YEAR       1

     example). The expense represents the                Personal Budget:                                                  1
     impact of their work on your budget.                Rent/house payment                          525       $6,300
                                                                                                               $4,800      1
         If the entry comes partially or com-            Groceries                                   400
     pletely from another job (#2 on page                Insurance (life, health, etc.)              250       $3,000
     19), subtract the weekly (or annual)                Clothing                                    125       $1,500
     hours from 40 (2,080) to get your                   Vehicle fuel, repairs                        60         $720
     starting point. Similarly, you need to              Charitable pledges                           90       $1,080      1
     subtract a proportionate amount of                  Eating out                                  120       $1,440
     time from holidays, sick days, and                  Vacation                                    125       $1,500
     vacation when calculating the time you              Utilities                                   250       $3,000      1
     have for the business.                              IRA                                         188       $2,256
         For example, if you work 10 hours               Other (hobbies, school, etc.)               220       $2,640
     per week at something else, you                     Subtotal: personal budget                            $28,236
     would start with 30 hours available
     per week, or 1,560 hours per year.
                                                         Portion coming from other sources
                                                         "OWNER'S DRAW" REQUIRED
                                                                                                     686       $8,236
                                                                                                             $ 20,000
     Now 30 hours is 3/4 of 40 or 75 per-                                                                                  I
     cent, so in Table 1, the vacation time
     would be 60 hours ( 34 of 80), the hol-
                                                         Business Operating Budget:
                                                         Advertising                                  10         $120
     idays would be 66 hours, and the sick               Vehicle (mileage)                           120       $1,440      I
     time would be 7.5 hours per month.
     The overhead stays the same because
                                                         Depreciation (179 expense)
     it is already a percentage.                         Office expense                               10        $ 120      I
         Thus, a freelancer with a 10-
     hour/week part-time job would have
     about 941 hours per year to devote to               Utilities                                   110       $1,320      I
     the freelance business.
         A two-person team would double
                                                         Other (postage, books, training, etc.)
     these numbers (assuming each had a                  Subtotal: business operating                         $11,760      1
     10-hour/week job), or you could cal-                Persona! budget                                      $20,000
     culate your individual available time               Subtotal                                             $31,760
     separately and add the answers                      Growth (3%)                                            $953
     together. If only one partner had the               TOTAL REQUIREMENT                                    $32,713
     10-hour job, their hours would be 941
     and 1,255, respectively, so the team
     would have 2,196 hours available per              parties know exactly what the job will cost up front, and th
     year for the business.                            translator is free to render the target document in the best styl
                                                       possible without considering the target-text word count.
     Source text or target text. Since the                 However, if the source document is coming by fax or in th
     1998 article, the transmission of source          mail and the target document is going to be electronically
     documents electronically has become               delivered, then software held in common can only count what
     commonplace, but the general advice               is in the target text. The condition of the source documer
     remains the same: count what the free-            (handwriting, illegible material, tables, sheer bulk, etc.) often
     lancer and the client can agree upon.             makes only a rough estimate of the word count possible. Reset
     Ideally, the client pays the translator to        ting tables and typing in numbers will take more time tha
     translate a certain amount of mate-               replacing them in an electronic document. More often than not
     rial—the source text. If the source text          I find myself insisting on a target-text word count whe:
     can be counted accurately, then both              dealing with a paper source text.

20                                                                                         ATA Chronicle •• August 200
Table 3: Section of a Translator's Sales Record

  Job #           Date Sent        Rate       Count         Revenue       Hours      $S/hr      Wph       Date Paid   Remarks
  TRA-01-99       15/1:2/99        $0.13      15,568        $2,023.84     26.30      $76.95     592        22/3/00    Trailmix
  ATX-09-98       31/3/00          $0.10     135,344       $13,534.40    235.20      $57.54     575        15/4/00    TAC-01-84
  LSU-07-98       12/4/00          $0.10     253,889       $25,388.90    437.74      $57.99     580        28/7/00    Messen
  CTX-01-00       02/2/00          $0.13       7,895        $1,026.35     14.50      $70.78     544        15/3/00    Comtox
  TRA-01-00       15/2/00          $0.13      11,250        $1,462.50     22.30      $65.58     504        21/3/00    Trailmix

  SUMMARY                                    534,556       $58,344.20     1,818      $32.09      294

Pricing additional services. Once you gain an appreciation of           Translation. Also, there are work-
 the value of your time, the impact of non-language aspects of          shops at every ATA Annual COnfer-
 your work becomes more visible. Slowing down to read illeg-            ence and at meetings of large ATA-
 ible faxes in small font sizes, or retyping tables, or manually        affiliated chapters, such as the
 replacing decimal points with commas—all these slow down               Florida Chapter of ATA, National
 the work and may invalidate the piece rate (cents/word) on             Capital Area Chapter of ATA, and the
which you based the price of the job. Anything you can do to            New York Circle of Translators. The
avoid underestimating a job can help. One of the best defenses          material in these presentations is con-
is having data from your past work.                                     tinually changing to meet the needs
    Freelancers must keep decent records, but they need not be          of the attendees. If you have ques-
fancy. Table 3 shows a section of a hypothetical translator's           tions about freelancing or organizing
sales record. It is based on an Excel' spreadsheet. The sum-            your business, please send them to
mary at the bottom includes rows not shown, so the bottom line          the author at We
does not add up.                                                        will try to answer them in the pages
    In each row with a Job #, the Revenue is the product of the         of this magazine or in the conference
Rate and the Count. If the job were for hourly services, then           presentations.
Revenue would be the product of the Rate and Hours. The
$$/hr and the Words Per Hour (Wph) are the quotients of the             (Reprints of the original article as
Revenue divided by the Hours and the Count divided by the               well as the presentations in the Pro-
Hours, respectively. In the summary row, the Count, Revenue,            ceedings of the 38th, 39th, and 40th
and Hours entries are the sums of the columns above them, but           ATA Annual Conferences are avail-
the summary of the $$/hr and Wph are created by dividing the            able from Headquarters.)
summary Revenue and Count by the summary Hours.
    You might quote a total price for a really large job. If you do,    Notes
then you would enter the Revenue as a number and change the             1. Jonathan T. Hine, "Is This Worth It?
Rate so that it is the quotient of the Revenue divided by the Count.       Economic Decision Making for
    The Remarks should be able to help you recall what kind of             Freelance Language Specialists,"
work was involved, especially if something about the job                   The ATA Chronicle, February 1998:
caused you to adjust the piece rate you quoted the customer.               23-30.
Armed with this information, you will be able to quote a rate
or price quickly the next time you see a job like it. After a           2. Jonathan T. Hine, I Am Worth It!
while, you will be able to guess the "price" of a job just by              How to Set Your Price and Other
looking at it. What you will be doing is recognizing something             Tips for Freelancers, Freelancer's
you remember pricing on your spreadsheet.                                  Self-Help Series 2 (Charlottesville
                                                                           VA: Scriptor Services, 1997).

  You write "the rest of the story." The scene from Mark
Adams' class comes from a real class, called Introduction to
Setting Up an Independent Translation Business
by Nancy M Snyder

L ast year's ATA survey showed that freelance            complicated and more stressful than having one
translators are generally not earning high incomes.
Of course, many of the survey respondents work
freelance in addition to a full-time job. Having a        MYTH: I'd love to be self-employed, but I have a
hobby that pays $5000 a year is great, but if you        family, so I need the benefits.
want to have a full-time career as a freelance            FACT: You can be self-employed and have
translator, $5000 isn't going to be enough.               company-paid benefits. It takes careful planning
                                                          and it takes responsibility to pay for your own
There are many myths about being self-employed.           benefits. Insurance plans available privately may be
I've been self-employed for more than a year now         more expensive than corporate benefits, but
and I've heard a lot of the myths from my friends.        investigate insurance programs offered by your
My friends think I'm a lucky person. Those of you         local chamber of commerce or other professional
who are supporting yourselves                            t         organizations you belong to.
by full-time freelance
translating already know                                           MYTH: I'd like to do more freelancing,
that luck has very little                                          but I don't get very many calls.
to do with it. Businesses                                          FACT: If you want to do more
aren't based on luck.                                             freelancing, you don't wait for calls. You
They are started with a                                             call people. You set up a marketing plan.
lot of hard work.                                                     You stick with your marketing plan
                                                                       until you have built up clientele. The
Let's look at some of the                                            responsibility for getting more work lies
myths that exist about self-                                     with you. It's not a matter of chance.
                                                          MYTH: If I had more confidence, I'd do
MYTH: You can set your own hours.                        something like that.
FACT: You can set your own hours, but they will          FACT: I didn't have confidence. I worried a lot.
probably be twice as long as the hours you have          When I make those marketing calls, my hands
been working for someone else while your business        would shake. Luckily I could keep my voice from
is getting started.                                      shaking. But I made the calls and got the customers.
                                                         People who try things even though they are afraid
It is a great freedom to plan your schedule to allow     gain confidence when they see their success.
for activities that you might not otherwise be able to
do because they are during nine to five business         There are two more myths, and these will be the
hours. You can avoid crowds and go shopping or to        focus of this article. Believing these myths is what
the bank or to the circus or anywhere else during the    holds people back as freelance translators and can
day when nobody else in town is going there. But         keep them from making a good income from
don't forget—at night, while others are having fun,      translation alone.
you're going to be working.
                                                          MYTH: If clients would pay more and translators
MYTH: It's great to be your own boss. Nobody             got more respect and were more appreciated and
pushes you around. You make your own decisions.           better compensated for what they did, it would be
FACT: Serving a number of customers may be                easy for me to make a living. Then I could
harder than having a boss. It can mean having a          freelance and make a good living.
different set of specifications for a number of bosses   FACT: I am making a good living doing freelance
and keeping them all straight. It can be more            translating, and I have not yet begun to do anything
about increasing pay for translators. In this country,   keep the business running while you are employing
the understanding of translation and its difficulties    yourself as a translator. In other words, you become
is abysmal. Translators don't get the money that         your own employer and your own employee. Your
they deserve for the amount of education required.       job as translator is the fun part. For most of us who
                                                         translate, that's the fun stuff, that's what we want to
People in many other professions don't get paid          do. In order to have an opportunity to translate as a
enough for the work they do, either. But until you       self-employed individual, we must learn what it
are in a position to do something about these            takes to set up and run a business, and we must plan
conditions, you need to put all that aside. It's all      steps to reach that goal. Otherwise, we are going to
very well to think about how the world should be         be one of those freelancers waiting for the phone to
and work for change. But complaining about how           ring and earning $5000 a year.
things are and wishing they were different can
sometimes trap us into doing nothing. In order to
accomplish anything, we have to start from where         T o run a freelance translation business, you need
we are now. Who is in a better position to change        to know what it takes to run a business. Believe me,
the current status of translators? Someone who is        it takes a lot. Your best opportunity to learn about
employed full time somewhere in a demanding job          running a successful small business is available
and works freelance evenings and weekends and is         from the Small Business Administration. The SBA
so busy and exhausted he doesn't know whether            offers an all-day seminar given by SCORE. For
he's coming or going? Or the person who is               $10.00 you get eight solid hours of knowledge,
working full time and exclusively as a translator and    hints and tips, from people who have spent many
is making enough money not to have to worry about        years running businesses. These are people who
paying the rent?                                         know about business. They tell you about taxes that
                                                         you need to look into. They tell you about insurance
Once you are established in full-time work as a          that you need to look into. They tell you about legal
translator, you can be in touch with colleagues and      aspects that you need to look into. They tell you
translation consumers continually. That is when you      about personality characteristics that you need to
begin to influence the future of the profession. You     consider. They tell you about the cost of running a
can band together with other translators and begin       small business of your own. Not only the cost in
client education campaigns. Once you have                dollars, but the emotional cost and strain on the
established your reputation with your clients, you       family.
should be able to raise your rates based on their
estimation of your value. Will they just drop a          We're talking about a big job. Running a business is
person whose work they like and whom they can            an enormous task and I think it's very important to
trust, only to save a penny a word somewhere else?       find out whether it's a task you would like to
                                                         undertake before you start. 80% of small
There are many things we all want: better pay, more      businesses fail within the first year. Two main
respect. They say you can't have it all, but I think     reasons they fail are undercapitalization and lack of
it's best to say you can't have it all today. The most   planning.
important thing is to pay the rent.
                                                         In order to realistically assess where you are now,
MYTH: I don't want to have to deal with                  you need to have an understanding of how the
corporate politics. I don't want to have to deal with    translation business operates in this country. I was
business, I don't like business, I just want to          employed as the office manager of a translation
translate.                                               agency in the Detroit area for two years. And,
FACT: If this is how you really feel, self-              believe me, it's a job that I never want again. The
employment is not for you. In order to support           pressure is tremendous. You need to understand that
yourself as an independent, self-employed freelance      translation is a subset of the communications
translator, you will have to deal with business. In      industry. And communications usually means, "I
fact, to be a self-employed freelance translator, you    need this job yesterday." Agency people are very
have a dual role. You not only have to translate, you    much under pressure to get jobs translated as
have to learn how to set up a business. You have         quickly as possible. Agencies are also under
tremendous pressure in being responsible for the
translators that they select. Anyone who thinks that    E qually important is your assessment of your own
an agency manager is a person who just sits and         personality. If you have done relatively little
collects money while other people do the work           freelance work, do you think it would bother you to
doesn't understand what an agency does. An article      spend so much time in a solitary occupation? Do
by Doris Ganser in the March 1989 ATA Chronicle         you have enough self-discipline to turn off the TV?
gave a vivid portrayal of a translation agency's        To tell your friends personal phone calls have to be
tasks. Finding clients, dealing with clients,           short? To stay home and keep working in spite of
satisfying clients, is an enormous task, which you      loneliness? To be able to get right to work and not
will soon find out if you become self-employed.         stop to tidy up the kitchen? Do you have the daring
                                                        it will take to let go of the security of the corporate
I am happy to have people doing that task for me in     world where your boss plans your week and the
other cities. I don't work for agencies in Detroit      personnel director plans your retirement?
because I want to be able to approach local
businesses directly. Working for local agencies         Don't forget—daring does not mean unafraid.
would exclude many companies from those I am            Every risk we take in life brings with it a certain
able to contact. But I do work in Boston, I do work     element of fear. Daring is the ability to master your
in Des Moines, I do work in several cities where        fear and do what needs to be done in spite of it.
agencies are my agents. They are selling my
services for me, they are dealing with the customer     Some people know deep in their hearts that they
for me and I'm willing to pay them for that. Of         need supervision and a structured environment to do
course, it's your choice whether you want to work       their best work. It will be best for these people to
for agencies or only for direct clients. If you do      find themselves employment in a structured
choose to work for agencies, try to do it with a        situation instead of attempting something that is not
cheerful heart. If you truly believe that you are       right for them.
being exploited by an agency, by all means don't
work for that agency. But there are many agencies       The second key is credibility.      Credibility—that's
out there that will treat you honorably.                got to be the most important thing that you can give
                                                        to your translation customer, whether a direct
Based on my experience both as an agency manager        customer or an agency, to convince him to entrust
and as a translator, I've boiled the main points down   you with the job. The average person in the United
to four key words—ability, credibility, availability,   States doesn't even know another language. The
and flexibility. All four of these are factors that     customer needs confidence that you know what you
have to be considered in the successful freelance       are doing. It is very difficult in this country for a
career.                                                 customer to get a translation checked. They can't
                                                        check it themselves, so you must present your
The first key, ability,  requires that you make a       prospective customers with credentials that make
thorough, honest assessment of yourself. First—         you credible to them.
your professional ability. Are you a skilled
translator? Do you like to translate well enough to     You also need to make yourself credible to
do it full time? If you have already been employed      agencies. Agencies get swamped with résumés.
as a translator, these questions will be easy to        Even to receive an application form from an
answer based on previous experience. But if             agency, you have to portray yourself as a credible
translation has played only a small role in your        translator. In business, as in life, first impressions
career, can you find some other ways to assess your     can be critical. In the same way that you would
ability? If you are really unsure of your ability, it   shine your shoes, comb your hair and scrub your
might be best at first to ask someone to whom you       fingernails before an important interview, you must
do not intend to apply for work. This will allow you    keep your résumé, cover letters and applications
to assess your skills in a non-threatening              clean, neat, and free of typeovers, white-out and
atmosphere.                                             sloppy handwriting. A sloppy first contact can plant
seeds of doubt in the customer's mind—if this            In this business, no matter where I lived, I would
person is this sloppy and doesn't even have the job      still own a fax machine. I know they're expensive,
from me yet, what will it come to when he has the        but what it does is to give my customers that
job and loosens up a little?                             important sense of my availability.

What gives a customer the feeling of confidence?         Usually the customer, whether an agency or a direct
Not a bachelor's degree in German. Teaching a            client, needs the translation FAST. When they think
foreign language usually doesn't either. In industrial   of you and your fax machine, there is a little halo
and business settings, the customer needs to see         around your name. They think to themselves—now,
evidence not only of the knowledge of the language,      there's a person we can get whenever we need him.
but knowledge of a particular subject area.              That aura of availability makes it worth every penny
Academic or work-related experience in a specific        that I paid for it and spend to maintain it. Clients
field lends you a great deal of credibility.             need to feel that you are available.

                                                         I also have an answering machine on my phone. I
One way to check out your credibility is to send         change the message every time I go out or every
letters to agencies describing your credentials and      time I'm not available. If I'm going to the post
asking for an application. If you get a lot of           office and I'll be back in a couple minutes, I say so.
applications, you begin to gain confidence in your       If I'm out at lunch, I say so. If I'm at a meeting or at
professional credentials. However this doesn't mean      the library for research and I'm going to be gone for
you should quit your job and then send out a couple      a longer period of time, I say that, too, but I also
of letters, hoping that you will have a business. You    mention that I call in regularly for messages. I do
want to set up a step-by-step program.                   this because I've worked at an agency. When
                                                         there's a rush job and they're calling around for
First, make an assessment of your personal and           somebody, if they get a message that says, "We are
professional ability. Check out your credibility by      not in the office right now. Please leave a message
contacting agencies and requesting applications. If      after the tone and we'll return your call as soon as
it seems that you have realistically assessed your       we can," they don't know. You could be gone for an
skills in relationship to market demands (which you      hour, you could be gone for five days.
will see from the type of response you get), you can
begin to consider investing in some equipment that       The client's belief in your availability carries more
will make you available.                                 weight than the reality of it. Last year, a week
                                                         before the conference in Seattle, I sent a fax
This brings us to the third key, availability.           message to all my major customers to give them
From time to time I read complaints in The ATA           advance notice of my absence. It told the day I was
Chronicle that some people are just not sure that         leaving and the day my office would reopen. When
                         this computer stuff is paying   I got back from Seattle, I sat in my office for two
                           off. Now, everyone wants      days without a single phone call. And then it
                               us to have fax machines   dawned on me: in my clients' minds, I was
                                and modems which are     "unavailable." I faxed everyone again to let them
                                 quite expensive, and    know I was back, and within an hour I had 2 new
                        some translators are just not    jobs on my desk. Don't forget, you may work for 6
              sure that it's worth the expense. You      agencies, but each agency may have 16 employees,
wouldn't hear such comments from translators in          60 translators and 600 clients. It is up to you to keep
Detroit. Detroit is simply not a big translation         their mind on you.
town. It is essentially a one-industry town—
automotive. We do not have a variety of                  The fourth key is flexibility. This word is the one
international business. Since fax and modem have         that will cause the most controversy.
become affordable options, it is now possible to
work for anyone, anywhere, no matter where you           We all like to do the job that we think is best and
live.                                                    have it appreciated by others. We like people to
 appr we of our personal style and applaud it. As
 translators, we are artists, not high-level typists, and   There is a third and final aspect of flexibility. Be
 we take pride in what we do. But, paradoxically, the       flexible enough to set your sights a little lower to
 translation business is also a service business. The       keep yourself in business. Create a safety net. If you
 customer may not always be right, but the customer         live in a two-income family, this may not be
 is the one who is paying you. While I believe in           necessary, but if you're on your own, you might
 client education, I don't believe in getting up on a       need another source of income to fill in some slow
 high horse and telling the client what I will and will     spots until you are established. Don't forget, one of
 not c o because I'm an artist. It is important to          the most common causes of failure in business starts
distinguish between style, which is a personal              is undercapitalization—not having enough money
preference; and accuracy. Of course, we must                to keep the business going.
 always stand up for accuracy. If something is
 definitely incorrect, you must say so and explain          Your safety net could be using any skill you have,
 why But if the customer wants things in a certain          but it needs to be part time and not demanding so
 way because it's a matter of taste, so be it. The only     that you can focus your full attention on your own
thing; you will do by trying to impose your personal        business. Working full time and running a business
 style is cause irritation. And irritation can lead         is exhausting and not to be recommended for more
 directly to loss of business.                              than a short period of time.

Here's an example. Suppose I am translating                 It is important to take a realistic look at the current
information about a bottled drink that is being             situation: at your own personal current situation and
imported from Germany by a firm in New Jersey. 1            the current situation of the translation industry in
translate the slogan as "XYZ Cola—the Pop that              this country. Starting from that realistic point, you
Refreshes." The next week I get a letter back from          need to very carefully plan small steps that will
my client in New Jersey saying that in the future, I        gradually bring you closer to whatever goal it is that
should use the word "soda" instead of "pop." This           you personally desire.
sounds stupid to me. I'm from Michigan and a soda
is a drink made by putting ice cream and flavored           Nancy Snyder holds a B.A. in German from
syrup in a glass and adding sparkling water. So, do I        Michigan State University and a Certificate in
write back and tell my client in New Jersey that             Computer Programming. After Volkswagen's
soda is the wrong word and anybody halfway                   Detroit offices, where she was employed as a
intelligent would realize that pop was the right word        Terminologist, closed last year, Ms. Snyder started
to begin with? Of course not. This is an                     her own translation business. She is ATA-accredited
oversimplified example of the flexibility it takes to       from German into English.
deal with corporate jargons and personal
preferences when you are dealing with a number of

My concept of flexibility extends even to pay rates.
Even though I do excellent work, my personal
philosophy is that I am just starting out and I have
to pay the bills. Sometimes it's better to work at a
rate that is somewhat less than I'm actually worth,
than it is for my business to fold because I'm
holding out for more pay. It is also part of my
philosophy that as a newcomer, it is much more
likely that people will give me a chance if my rates
are competitive. Who is willing to pay top dollar for
an unknown product? I am continually in a process
of marketing myself so that I can replace lower-
paying clients with higher-paying clients.

 George P. Rimalower
 Valley Village, Cali f ornia

(as published in the Proceedings of the 38 th Annual Conference of the American Translators

Keywords: Agencies, Bureaus, Translation Agencies

Abstract: Agencies use hundreds of translators; unless you stand out from the crowd, you may
be overlooked. Solid translation skills are not all that it takes to be a successful translator. This
session explores what can you do to enhance your standing with translation agencies. Translators
attending this session will learn how they can become the kind of translators agencies prefer to
work with. Discussions will address the best ways to approach a prospective agency and how to
"sell" your services. Leading the session will be George P. Rimalower, President of ISI, a large
nationwide translation agency based in Valley Village, California.

Agencies need translators to service their clients and translators need agencies to help them earn
a living from their skills and expertise. By following some simple suggestions, the relationship
can be a rewarding experience for both parties.
When deciding on which of the over 21,000 translation agencies to work with, don't limit
yourself to your geographical location. Translators should sign up with as many agencies as they
can regardless of location, especially in this age of computer communication. An excellent
source for names of agencies around the country is the ATA Membership Directory. You can
also look in your local telephone yellow pages and the yellow pages of large cities around the
country. You can find telephone directories for major U.S. cities at your local library. Some
agencies post their needs on AOL, CompuServe and the Internet; check forums_
How can you establish a solid relationship with an agency? First you have to have the ability to
translate in a precise, accurate and thorough manner. But you must also inform the agency of
your abilities in an appealing manner.
2.1     Preparing A Persuasive Resume

In most cases, your resume and cover letter to an agency act as your interview with the agency so
they must be persuasive. First impressions count.

•   Personalize your correspondence by obtaining the correct name and title of the person to
    whom you are sending your resume. Personalized correspondence shows you have made the
    extra effort to present a professional showing of yourself.
•   If your resume is thorough, efficiently designed and well written, it will catch the eye of
    agency personnel who must screen the large numbers of resumes that are mailed to the larger
    agencies each year.
•   Your resume should be easy to read. Lay out your resume by using lists whenever possible
    and avoid long paragraphs of text. Proofread your work carefully. Errors reflect poorly on
    your ability to translate.
•   List your name, address and telephone number. Immediately thereafter, state your language
    pairs and the type of computer software and hardware you use. Then state your specialties.
    These items are what agencies look for first.
•   Computers are extremely important to translation agencies. Minimal hardware requirements
    are a word processor, high quality printer, fax machine and modem. Having an AOL or
    CompuServe account is also very helpful. E-mail and direct modeming are in common
    usage. Many agencies prefer to receive documents by e-mail or direct modem
    transmission—it saves time and reduces the chance of errors by eliminating the need for the
    agency to retype or scan the material into final form. Clearly state your computer skills and
    desktop publishing ability.
•   Also include your credentials: schooling, technical knowledge, work experience.
    certifications. hobbies, memberships—all items that indicate and reinforce your areas of
    expertise and translating proficiency. A hobby in photography, for example, may not seem
    important to include on a resume to a translating agency, but if that agency needs a translator
    who is familiar with photographic terminology, it will know who to call.
•   Resumes should also state the translator's ability to perform tasks other than translating.
    including editing or proofreading other translator's work. Also indicate if you are available
    for rush projects, localization and on-site support. Your willingness to undertake these
    projects makes you more valuable to an agency.
•   Include nonreturnable, neatly assembled samples that show your areas of expertise. If you
    have desktop publishing ability, for example, make sure the samples reflect these skills as
    well as your font capabilities.
•   As you obtain new equipment or offer new services, send your resume to agencies and alert
    them to your new services. However, do not keep sending the same resume over and over to
    the same agencies and contact person. This tactic soon becomes annoying and does more
    harm than good. If you move or change your telephone number(s), notify the agency in
When should you expect to hear from an agency once it has received your resume? It's hard to
say. Our translating agency keeps all resumes on file. It may be two weeks or two years before
we call you. Don't be discouraged.
2.2 Networking
If you are not a member already, join ATA. It shows you are taking yo ur translation career

seriously. Attend ATA national conferences, such as this one, and any regional ATA functions
in your area. While at these conferences, talk with agency representatives and establish a
relationship. By establishing a rapport with agency personnel at the conference, your resume will
stand a better change of getting noticed. Ask questions about the agency and how it operates.
Find out if the agency is looking for particular language pairs, software or services you can
provide that .might give you a leg up on others. Always ask for business cards from agency
representatives. If you decide to send material on your services to an agency, be sure to reference
your meeting at the conference. ISI has met many qualified translators who are now part of our
translator pool at ATA conventions. Make sure your cover letter contains a reference to your
meeting. Meet other translators; they can be good people to guide you.
23      Other Skills to 'Offer
Agencies are always looking for translators who have editing skills, proofreading skills and
desktop publishing expertise. Translators who are unfamiliar with desktop publishing software
(PageMaker, QuarkXPress, etc.) should consider taking courses in these programs.
Localization skills are in demand. This is the process of adjusting the product or service to the
country being targeted. For example, dates, times, measurements and colors need to be
converted for the target market, taking into account the culture. traditions, taboos, superstitions,
etc. of the target country.
Another valuable service is your ability to offer on-site support. This can include product testing,
proper implementation, accommodating last minute changes,--etc.
Be realistic about your capabilities. Don't oversell yourself. A top notch translator should be
able to translate about 3,000 words per day. If you promise 3,000 words a day but only deliver
1,000, the agency will pass you over the next time a project needs completion. If you continually
miss deadlines, the agency will have no trouble finding someone else to take your place.
Many agencies edit the material submitted to them by their translators before they send the
completed project to the client. Even so, it is advisable to self-edit or have a second party edit
your finished work before sending your work to the agency. Discuss this with the agency.
Once you have taken on a translation assignment. it is up to you to make sure the job is
completed on schedule. Unforeseen problems can and do occur. Have backup resources in place
in case your computer or other equipment fails.
Whenever an assignment is given, make sure you are always clear before starting the project on
deadline, format (Mac, PC, Word, WordPerfect, camera ready artwork, column text, etc.), how
the completed material should be sent to the agency (modem, fax, overnight mail), the target
audience (Portuguese for Brazil or Portugal, education level, familiarity with subject matter, etc.)
and payment. Knowing this kind of information before beginning work can avoid major
miscommunication problems later.

                         10 Top Tips for a Top-notch Translation Résumé

                                                                                              By Eve Lindemuth Bodeux 0


              s you prepare for the upcoming ATA Annual Confer-                 5. At the ATA Annual Conference, you
              ence in Florida, keep these tips for a top-notch résumé              will most likely pass out hard copies
              in mind.                                                             of your résumé. Be sure to use high
                                                                                   quality paper and a high quality
     1. Highlight your source language(s), target language, and                    printer. Make sure the font is large
        native language.                                                           enough to read comfortably. Make it
                                                                                   short—one or two pages maximum.
     2. List all appropriate contact information: mailing address,                 Company representatives and poten-
        phone, fax, e-mail, and Website. Don't lose out on opportu-                tial clients will have a lot of paper to
        nities because one of your contact points doesn't work or is               cart back, so make your presentation
        unavailable. Give prospective clients various ways to con-                 compact.
        tact you so they can use their contact method of choice.

     3. When sending résumés by e-mail, take steps to ensure that                ...Always be truthful about past
        the recipient can open your file. One option is to send a text           experience and capabilities. Do not
        file, which is the "least common denominator" in the file
        family and one that can be read by all systems and all soft-             overestimate your target-language
        ware. To save a file as text in many programs, go to the File            capabilities...
        option on the screen's menu bar, scroll down to Save As,
        and when it asks what format you would like to save the file
        as, select Text Only.                                                   6. Always be truthful about past expe-
             One disadvantage of text files is that they do not sup-               rience and capabilities. Do not over-
        port any attributes (bold, italics, etc.). Rich Text Files (RTF)           estimate your target-language capa-
        can also be read by many systems and software and allow                    bilities. It is the industry standard to
        you to be more creative (using bold, italics, underline,                   translate into your native language,
        colors, graphics, etc.). To save a file as RTF, go to the File             and if you translate into more than
        option on the screen's menu bar, scroll down to Save As,                   one language, be prepared to justify
        and when it asks what format you would like to save the file               your claim to agencies or other
        as, select Rich Text Format.                                               industry professionals who may be
             Potential clients will often specify in what format                   interested in your services.
        they would like to receive résumés. Follow their instruc-
        tions so that you "get in the door." Hypertext Markup Lan-              7. Specify your fields of expertise.
        guage (HTML) files allow you to create a résumé with                       Staking out areas of specialization
        style and formatting. Also, HTML files usually do not take                 gives you credibility and encour-
        up much memory, making it easy for the recipient to open.                  ages clients to contact you for your
        However, if you want to use graphics, it makes it a bit                    focused knowledge.
        more complicated. You must include them in your e-mail
        and the recipient must save them to a directory. This is                8. Be sure to list (and keep updated)
        best avoided: send a simple HTML text file with no                         your hardware, software, and tech-
        graphics. An added benefit of using text, RTF, or HTML                     nical skills. Do you have Trados or
        files is that it is highly unlikely that you will transmit                 other productivity software? Are
        viruses through these formats.                                             you an expert at Illustrator? What
                                                                                   versions of MS Word or WordPer-
     4. If you choose to send your résumé as a Word document or                    fect do you have? Let clients know
        other file that may contain viruses, purchase a virus                      what equipment you have so that
        scanner and update it frequently. Nothing is more embar-                   possible compatibility issues can be
        rassing than sending a possible client the newest virus.                   dealt with up front and/or so you
        Having an up-to-date virus scanner also protects your                      can impress them with the latest and
        system and allows you to send and receive project files
        without worries.                                                                             Continued on p. 24

     ATA Chronicle • August 2000                                           40                                                 23
10 Top Tips for a Top-notch Translation Résumé Continued

  greatest. Do you know HTML,               you get the job. Adding a clarifier like "translation pro-
    C++, or have desktop publishing         ductivity software" can make all the difference. On the
  skills? Sharing this 'knowledge           other hand, if your client has 10 years of experience in the
  makes you more competitive in             translation industry, using insider terms makes it appear
  today's high-tech workplace, no           that you are "in the know."
  matter what your fields of expertise.
                                          10. Check that there are no spelling errors or typos on your
9. Use appropriate jargon. Don't use        résumé. This cannot be emphasized enough. Spell check
   terminology that is over your            and then let time elapse between making updates and final-
   client's head. If your client has        izing your résumé—it gives you a fresh eye to catch mis-
   never heard of "localization," you       takes that might slip through. Ask a friend or two to proof it
   may want to briefly explain what it      to make sure.
   means. If your client doesn't know
   what Star Transit is, it won't help
                  Marketing Your Accreditation
                 By Julien Marquis

                 1. De facto recognition of our                  try has also shed a new light on the translation profession. In any
                    professionalism within the                   country you need inter-linguistic communication to sell the
                    RCNA territory, or the auto-                 "image of a product" (Coke), and this is achieved through trans-
                    affirmation of our professionalism           lation. The best example I can offer you is the Olympics in

                           couple of years back Alex             Atlanta. In the U.S. you did not see the inter-linguistic advertis-
                           Gross told the participants of        ing "on the tube" in Canada. It is in Canadian broadcasting, with
                           the ATA conference that the           its minimum four official TV channels (two in French and two
                 known and visible number of transla-            in English), that we have been experiencing the full force of
                 tors in the U.S. was only the tip of the        inter-linguistic audio-visual advertisements. Not to mention the
                 iceberg. He mentioned figures and               International francophone TV5 channel, or Telelatino from
                 extrapolations that I do not recall exact-      Italy! For those with little experience of multilingual translation,
                 ly, but I do know for a fact that ATA           this was a most intense lesson in creative translation—whether
                 membership has almost doubled since             in French, Italian. Portuguese, or Spanish. The Soccer World
                 that conference. The other fact is that         Cup in the U.S. three years ago produced the same kind of
                 ATA conferences have been attracting            advertising circus, and was a gold mine for public relations firms
                 more and more delegates year after              that produce multilingual communications texts. That is also a
                                                                 de facto recognition of the translation industry as a necessity for
                                                                 selling or distributing anything in the "global economy." An
...If   you are a beginning translator, volun-                   excellent professional service is also helping to promote reco g
        teering your services for specific tasks                 ber of a professional association is a plus for your customers
 within our association will enable you to                       who have to deal with several languages and who are, most of
                                                                 the time, awkward in their own language. or as a French author
use your achievements as marketing argu-
                                                                 used to say, "unilingual illiterates."
        ments for your professional services...
                                                                 2. Establishing a network and building professional
                                                                    Joining a professional association of translators could be your
                  year, and corporate sponsors and adver-
                                                                 first step toward creating and becoming part of a network, a sort
                  tisers are also increasing, as your con-
                                                                 of "Translator's Web," like ATA or any other FIT member asso-
                  ference program will attest. Paradox-
                                                                 ciation. Do not be a passive member of your association—
                  ically, even your legislators are more
                                                                 become proactive. Volunteering your services will increase your
                  aware of the intra-linguistic value of
                                                                 visibility. And if you help build the credibility of your associa-
                  translation as a business: in the
                                                                 tion and its accredited members, you will benefit yourself from
                 post-Reaganomics era, or should I say, in the
                                                                 this newly acquired credibility. If you are a beginning translator,
                  Gingrichian era, government expenses
                                                                 volunteering your services for specific tasks within our associa-
                  are to be banned, and that is probably
                                                                 tion will enable you to use your achievements as marketing
                  why some of your legislators think
                                                                 arguments for your professional 'services. Registration in the
                  English should be officially recognized
                                                                 directory of your association will make you part of a specific
                  as the sole language in use in the U.S.
                                                                 network. As a volunteer, you will extend that network because
                      Obviously, for all those legislators
                                                                 your name will be circulated for other professional reasons; in
                  who speak only one language, the use of
                                                                 the end you will get more calls than you can deal with.
                  another language is an expense because
                                                                    As a Canadian translator, I should also mention that the
                  they have to use a translator or an inter-
                                                                 "snowball effect" will net you clients and calls. Again, excel-
                 preter. Such a negative recognition is,
                                                                 lent performance of a service is the best marketing and net-
                  nevertheless, a form of de facto recogni-
                                                                 working argument in your favor; when your own clients will
                  tion of the value of our professional ser-
                                                                 refer you to others. Last year I agreed to do volunteer work on
                  vices. Any publicity is good publicity
                  when you do not have to pay for it. The
                  NAFTA effect on the translation indus-                                                                     Continued on page 17
   Marketing Your Accreditation                                               It is .also critical for your profes-
   Continued from page 16                                                  sional image to have a contingency
                                                                           plan so you can make sure your client
    the translation of a book for charity. The week after complet-         will receive the disk with your transla-
     ing the volunteer assignment, I received a call asking me to          tion by the stipulated deadline (usually
    translate another book, a paid translation this time. Best of all,     by modem or , as a last resort, by couri-
    translating the second book introduced me to an author with a          er). Your clients must have complete
    style compatible with my own. I called him and ended up                faith in your credibility and the relia-
    translating one of his latest books, this time on my own initia-       bility of your professional service.
• tive and that of the editor who accepted my translation.                 "Impeccable!" as we say in French.
        As a professional translator you should be ready to take on
                                                                           3. Promote professional services
    the "globe." How? The magic words these days seem to be
                                                                              that reflect the ethical
    "information superhighway" and "World Wide Web." On this
                                                                              principles and sound business
    subject, I recommend an excellent article on using the Internet
                                                                              practices in use within the
    —Gabe Bokor's "Translators Online" in the July 1996 issue of
 ▪ the ATA Chronicle. I will not enter into the details or extol the
    merits of one Net access provider over another, but the Internet
                                                                              Not so long ago we were speaking of
    and the World Wide Web are indeed two means of putting the
                                                                           the global village, global economy, and
,• global marketplace at our doorstep. As power users of modem
                                                                           global politics. That resulted in the
    communication technology, we should be ready to take advan-
                                                                           NAFTA economic space, the European
    tage of easier access not only to all kinds of information, but
                                                                           Community space, Open sky policies,
    also to potential customers.
                                                                           etc. Amalgamations, regroupments, and
        As in any other field of human business activity, there are
                                                                           buyouts stemmed from that economic
    traps to avoid, such as sending text files to your customers via
   e-mail or the Internet. If you are not aware of the encoding and
    decoding capacities of your software, you may end up in diffi-
    culties. Some services that provide access to the Internet sup-         ...As power users of modern communica-
    ply you with software that takes care of , such problems.
    According to Gabe Bokor:                                                tion technology, we should be ready to
        "The Foreign Language Forum (FLEFO) on Compuserve is                take advantage of easier access not only to
       the largest gathering of translators in cyberspace...The Internet
       allows us to market our services worldwide and to communi-
                                                                            all kinds of information, but also to poten-
       cate with our international clients at a negligible cost. It also    tial customers...
       forces , us to compete in the global marketplace, often with col-
       leagues established in low-cost, low-rates countries."
                                                                            trend. Multinationals companies needed
       For good marketing and public relations, it is highly advis-
                                                                            to expand to acquire their share of glob-
    able that you make sure that the capabilities for encoding and
                                                                            al markets or to carve their niches
  ▪ decoding text files offered by your Internet access provider
                                                                           before others occupied the terrain.
    software are compatible with those of your customers. I rec-
                                                                           These days, the writing on the wall is
    ommend using Compuserve for the same reason Gabe Bokor
                                                                            the information superhighway, cyber-
    mentions in his article:
                                                                           space, cybemaut, e-mail, Internet, the
       "Compuserve supports "binary" e-mail, i.e., you can upload
                                                                           Web and the World Wide Web.
       (send) any word-processed, graphic, or DTP file, or even an
                                                                               Take a step back to put this into per-
       application, as an e-mail message, which can then be down-
                                                                           spective, and what you are looking at is
       loaded (retrieved or displayed) by the addressee in its orig-
                                                                           neither more nor less the same kind of
       inal format." It would be unprofessional to claim that you
                                                                           jump forward as the one Marconi
       are fully capable of communicating on the "Net" or by e-
       mail only to discover that your client can't even open the
       text file sent over the "Net."                                                        Continued on page 18
Marketing Your Accreditation                   codes, the real transmission and coding/decoding languages
Continued from page 17                         used in cyberspace.
                                                    Now you have to decide what you are going to announce and
 enabled us to take not so long ago with       how. Well, before you do that I recommend a read-through of
 his now-forgotten transmission of a           the code of ethics of your professional association to make sure
 wireless radio signal over the Atlantic       that you do not advertise services in an unprofessional manner.
 Ocean. In the case of the global vil-         I also recommend that you not be too flashy or flamboyant
 lage, the media were the secret weapon        about your services; remember, you will still have to deliver! As
 or rather the tools, and in the case of       a small piece of advice, the old saying "let the buyer beware"
cyberspace, the Net, the World Wide            still applies on the World Wide Web. Try to check the references
Web, and e-mail are your new toys to           of potential clients or colleagues before doing business with
 help you communicate and sell and             them. A colleague of mine called me to check on a client in
 market your skills.                           Paris, France, and learned that the company still owed me
    In French we have a saying, "tout          money from when I moved to Canada 17 years ago.
nouveau tout beau" (anything new is                Your work will not be virtual work only, since your clients
better). But if you take a hard look           will still want you to provide them with cybertexts or cyber-
around you will find "a boire et a             translations. They will expect the jobs you e-mail them not
manger" (anything and everything) in           only to be print-ready, but also to be of the same quality as the
cyberspace. The sect for Zeus                  advertisement on your site page claims! So you see, the lan-
announcement (show brochure), the              guage has changed but the name of the game remains the same:
computer paper article about celebri-          be professional and deliver good quality work.
ties in cyberspace (show newspaper) or             What has also changed is the transmission speed of your
famous cybernauts, hate literature and         work and the distances it can now travel in a matter of seconds
financial advice and, of course, love          or minutes. This is a tool for the professional "truchements"
and sex in a virtual reality context.          (translators) of the world, to help them help others communi-
    So now you too want to build your          cate even faster than before. Remember the deadline "the trans-
own site on the Web. Instead of bill-          lation was due yesterday"—on the Web it was due two weeks
boards, newspaper ads, and ads in your         ago! "Faster, further. .... " strange, but I seem to recognize these
professional newsletter, you want to go        words from an event held not so long ago! In any case it applies
cyberad and announce your services on          perfectly to the new deadlines we can expect from our new
the information superhighway. You              clients in cyberspace. When sorely pressed by cyberclients
want a distinctive site; after all, you are    deadlines, we will have to face some hard decisions regarding
part of the communication chain, and           quality standards. "Ne confonde: pas vitesse et precipitation!"
are providing intra-linguistic communi-        (Do not confuse speed and panic). Our professionalism will
cation between peoples and cultures.           have to be stronger than ever in this new context of the cybere-
    What language are you going to             conomy. But once a professional always a professional, right?
use on your site? The "lingua franca"              So, if you are a recognized professional translator, duly
seems a good bet—English. Good,                accredited by your professional association, you will have
one less decision to make! Where do            many advantages over the isolated individual who is not part of
you start? Well, let's suppose you             the human web, that network of professionals who can help
have already subscribed to one of the          him or her out in case of difficulty. In other words, you will be
suppliers providing access to the              a cybertranslator rooted in the reality of your professional
Internet and the Web. Then you will            community. So much for the virtual reality of the cyberworid.
need a site page designed for you by a             I will leave the conclusion of these cybercomments to you
pro—or you can do it yourself using            and hope you do not turn into cyborgs overnight. I kind of like
an off-the-shelf, user-friendly pro-           what I can still touch, see, and speak to—that's the main rea-
gram. This will automatically convert          son I attend the ATA conferences. After all , I could have sent
all your commands into HTML                    you this cybergiberrish over the World Wide Web. Mingwetch,
(hypertext mark-up language) or Java          .aguse! (Thank you, that's all!) (Plains Cree ).              AT
               Top 10 Traits of Good Translators
               or How to Perform Nearly Perfectly in the Unlikely Event that You are not Already
               Doing so (in the Eyes of an Agency Coordinator)

               By Patricia L. Bown

              1. Format your resume so that per-          workable solution for the party trying to talk you into
              tinent points can be easily noticed.        accepting a job.
                 Your native language, language
              pairs, and years of experience as a         5. Say "yes" to a nuisance job every now and then.
              translator ought to be immediately vis-        On the other hand (referring back to number 4), go ahead
              ible to any reader flipping through a       and say "yes" every now and then when your reluctance to
              stack of resumes. List your subject         accept a project is because it's one of those jobs that's of the
              matter specializations or representative    unpleasant-but-someone's-got-to-do-it variety. The client to
              types of projects.                          whom you occasionally say "yes" to will not want to totally
                                                          alienate you by sending you only nuisance jobs.

...Practical tips about what one agency                   6. Give advance notice of looming disaster.
                                                              Disasters nearly always seem to be related to delivery
  translator coordinator finds helpful in                 schedules. If you know you will have to miss a due date for any
    developing and maintaining smooth                     reason, it's better to warn your client sooner rather than later.
                                                          It's helpful if you can provide a reason for the disaster that will
              working relationships with                  be useful in explaining the delay.
                                                          7. Miss only one deadline per job.
                                                             Sometimes a project seems fated to suffer unavoidable set-
              2. Have your fax on at all times.           backs from the moment it first crosses someone's mind. There
                 Maybe not literally, although that       probably isn't anything you can do to stop the cycle of mad-
              certainly is appropriate. The point is to   ness on such a project. Even so, credibility (your client's and
              be accessible. If you are not immedi-       your own) deteriorates rapidly if Plan B has to be followed by
              ately available by phone during busi-       Plan C, or worse. Do everything you can to prevent having to
              ness hours, then you should be              arrange more than one extension.
              checking your fax, e-mail, and/or voice
              messages frequently throughout the          8. Turn in jobs early!
              day. Many times it is not possible to          If you happen to complete a project early, go ahead and
              wait even a couple of hours to hear         deliver it. Your client learns more about how quickly you can
              from a translator about availability for    work (and also knows that you might be available for more
              a specific job.                             work).

              3. Keep up with the industry.               9. Express your preferences.
                  Be the expert on linguistics,              Help your client get to know what suits you best by offering
              resources in content areas, and the         information about your preferences—what you enjoy most;
              tools of the trade (software). Know         what dictionaries you have; how you prefer to receive work,
              where to look for answers. Let the          get messages, etc.; if you'd rather volunteer for a root canal
              industry change around you only if that     than translate a certain subject; if you always or never work on
              is the result of your business decision     weekends; if you routinely work through the night, so please
              to more narrowly define your niche in       don't call before noon...anything! You'll have a better chance
              the market!                                 of getting more of what you want in a manner you prefer.

              4. Say "no" when necessary.                 10. Teach your client.
                 Decline a project if you are truly          If you find yourself mentally listing all the things you wish
              reluctant to do it. If you can't handle a   your client knew, go ahead and offer some education. Trans-
              project for whatever reason, say so         lator coordinators particularly welcome your expertise on mat-
              (and give the reason—that helps your        ters that will help them fine-tune their skills in providing accu-
              client learn more about what you do
              best). There nearly always is another                                                     Continued on p. 64
Top 10 Traits of Good Translators Continued from p. 14
rate information about language. word count, and content. Also, your clients
(often not the end-users of the translation) like to pass along helpful information
to their own clients. The people that generate the demand for translations some-
times have no practical knowledge of what transpires between order and delivery.
In many cases, it's the translators who can best initiate a flow of useful informa-
tion to help remedy this situation.

   Just one more tip...

11. Bring up problems.
   A mutually beneficial business relationship requires an ongoing investment of
time and energy by both parties. One of the aspects with the most potential for
reward in any good relationship is dealing with problems in a professional
manner. If you value the business relationship, it's worth bringing up and
resolving problems, and your client should do the same with you.
                 Some Hints to Help Beginners in the Professional
                 Business World         This article appeared in Spanish in "Molinos de Viento"
                                                                 an Argentine publication for translators and interpreters,
                                                                 Website: ,         atibia!
                By Natascha Ostroumoff

                              hen the word "professional"       Making Contact
                              is applied to a person                When meeting prospective clients, it is usually necessary to
                                         winayobrckhfdugst      make an appointment (this process might take several phone
                or service, it usually means that they          calls). When we finally get Mr. John Harris on the line, we
                have the special skills required to do a        should introduce ourselves saying: "This is Jane Pritt. I am a
                quality job in their field. The word also      professional translator, a member of the American Translators
                carries with it a series of attributes which    Association, who is calling on behalf of Mr. Thompson
                extend beyond work-related experience,          (always give the name of the person who referred you). May I
                covering such traits as general demeanor       visit you to discuss the document that you need translated?"
                and even one's appearance. As transla-         After this introduction, you can go about setting a date and
                tors, it is especially important that we        time for a meeting.
                project a professional attitude.                   You should always arrive five minutes early for an appoint-
                                                                ment, so as to give yourself enough time to find the correct
                                                               address and pertinent floor in the building. Being late is rude and
           [the translator] has neglected to
        ...if                                                  does not project a very positive professional image. Upon arrival.
present himself or herself in a professional                   greet the receptionist and say: "Good afternoon. I am Jane Pritt.
                                                               Could you please tell Mr. John Harris I am here for the meeting?"
 manner, then these qualifications will not                    It is at this point that you hand over a business card, which may
                    make any difference...                     look something like the sample business card shown in Figure 1.
                                                                   A good personal first impression is most important. and
                                                               handing out a business card is a very good start. The new com-
                 What Makes a Professional?                    puter software programs currently available (and a little bit of
                     For one, wearing clothes that are         imagination) make it possible to print out business cards in no
                ,appropriate to a particular work envi-        time. Simply research the tools, envelopes, and labels menu on
                ronment undoubtedly contributes to our         your Word 6 or 7 or Word Perfect and make use of the Avery
                 professional image. A pair of shorts or       business cards.
                 tights, a faded T-shirt, and sneakers are         A meeting with a client or potential client is certainly a test
                 most adequate for the beach or for a          for the professional translator (and I do recommend a personal
                 Saturday afternoon at the club, but are       meeting once in a while, although using the e-mail or messen-
                 obviously "taboo" for a meeting with          ger services is a very good resource). Practice is essential for
                 fellow translators and something very         everything, and you will feel more confident as you meet with
                 close to a capital sin when visiting a        more and more prospective clients. At the end of the meeting
                 client or a prospective client. True pro-     do not forget to thank the person who spoke with you for tak-
                 fessionals are expected to wear the           ing the time to see you.
                right clothes for the right occasion: a
                 well-tailored suit with a matching shirt      What To Do When You Get the Job
                 and tie for men and a suit and skirt or          When you are given the document that needs to be translat-
                 trousers for ladies. A person who is not      ed, ask for a copy of it (this shows you wish to safeguard the
                well-groomed or dressed appropriately
                will certainly make a very bad impres-         Figure 1: Sample Business Card
                sion in business circles. And it may
                well be that such a person is an excel-         Jane Pritt
                lent translator and knows perfectly well        Professional Translator
                all the terminology in a complicated            Member, American Translators Association
                translation project, but if that person
                has neglected to present himself or her-
                self in a professional manner, then                                                            Tel: (212) 453-0000
                these qualifications will not make any          1200 Anystreet                                Fax: (212) 454-1000
                difference. As the saying goes: the first       Anytown, NY 10002                      E-mail:
                impression is the one that counts.
original) and request permission to take it to your office. Try to   iti me trade in that piece about
avoid giving a price quote on the spot, since you will need time     Christopher Columbus, do not forget
to analyze the document and count the words in order to make         that your friend has an uncle in the
a proper estimate. When you sit down to look at the text, num-       merchant marine. Always go to real-
ber the pages if they are not already numbered. Carefully ana-       life sources for references, because the
lyze all the difficulties that you encounter. Write down any         dictionaries sometimes do not give
troublesome words and look them up in the dictionary, and            you the correct terminology (or if you
then ask the client about the preferred terminology.                 find several definitions in the dictio-
   Generally, a translator will count the words in two or three      nary, select the correct one with the
lines and make an estimate of the words per line. This total is      help of your consultant).
then multiplied by the number of lines on the page, which
gives you the total of words per page, and this number is mul-        Delivering the Document
tiplied by the number of pages in a document. Add approxi-               When you submit a translation it is
mately 25 percent more words when you translate from                  a good idea to submit it with a cover
English-into-Spanish, and use this figure as the average total        sheet like the one shown in Figure 2.
number of words. Your quote to the client should include date,           This cover sheet is a marketing tool.
an estimated total cost of the translation, cost per word or 100      Just like the business card, the cover
words, and the expected turnaround time.                              sheet is a way to ensure that your
   A professional translator always meets the deadlines.             clients remember you because it bears
Perhaps you have to work overnight if necessary, but you             your name and contact information.
should never fail to deliver the translation on time. Failure to         Whenever possible, follow the for-
do so will surely result in the loss of a client.                     mat of the original text and copy any
                                                                     tables or figures. Scanners and all sorts
Figure 2: Sample Cover Sheet                                         of different software tools help us in
                                                                     the task of preparing a professional
  Translation From Spanish                                           job. If you do not know how to make
                                                                     charts or drawings, get them done pro-
  Date Translated: August 26, 1999                                   fessionally at a copy shop, but do not
                                                                     leave them out (unless the client
  Christopher Columbus and the Discovery of the                      specifically asked you to do so). When
  Americas                                                           translating into Spanish, we frequently
                                                                     need more space for the captions. This
 Translated Especially For (name of company)                         problem may be solved either by
 by                                                                  increasing the space available or
 Jane Pitt,                                                          decreasing the font size.
 Professional Translator                                                As you can tell from what has
 1200 Any Street                                                     already been mentioned, a translator,
 Anytown, NY 10002                                                   aside from being an expert in the lan-
 Tel: (212) 453-0000                                                 guage and subject matter being translat-
 Fax: (212) 453-1000                                                 ed, should have a comprehensive
 E-mail:                                           knowledge of computers. You need to
                                                                     know about different software pro-
                                                                     grams, how to convert and open a docu-
   Once you have the client's approval to go ahead with the          ment that is in a different software for-
project, sit down in front of your computer and translate.           mat, and how to save documents prop-
Since you have already analyzed the document, you know the           erly in order not to lose them. It is
difficulties that may arise and are prepared for them. You           essential to have a computer consultant
should also develop a network of professional consultants or         handy for those dreadful moments
fellow translators whom you can call to ask for help. For
example, if you have a rather awkward word related to mar-                               Continued on p. 28
     Some Hints to Help Beginners in the Professional Business World Continued from p. 19
      when that translation you have just fin-         In case you cannot find out the meaning of a word or you
     ished simply vanished from the screen!!        can't discover what the meaning of a particular acronym is, use
         When you have finished your transla-       a translator's note to explain what you think it may be and
      tion (which you should have saved on the      write out the translation in Spanish.
      hard drive as well as on a diskette for          The translation project may be delivered to the client by
     safety), leave it for a little while (if       electronic mail or messenger. Ideally, you should deliver a hard
     possible) and then read it aloud in order      copy with a diskette in a folder. Remember to send your
     to improve on the target language as           invoice with the job, stating payment terms and your bank
     much as possible. Do your own editing,         account number (if you have agreed that payment be sent auto-
     and make all the changes necessary to          matically to your account).
     avoid the problem of having your                  After you have sent out the job (either by messenger or
     masterpiece sound like a translation.              e)cal-thminoksureygti.(Iamznhow
     Then read it against the original in order    many e-mails get lost and how many messengers leave the urgent
     to check that you have not missed             job at the reception desk where it lies until the next day!!).
     anything, and that you understood every-          A glossary of terms is always useful in the translation
     thing correctly. Certainly it would be bet-   process. Organize a glossary for each client and use it for future
     ter if you have a colleague look over your    translation assignments, adding on new words as you go along.
     translation to check the style and correct
     the text in order to minimize errors.

28                                                                     ATA Chronicle • November/December 1999
               Internet Search Strategies for Translators

              By Manon Bergeron and Susan Larsson

              Note: The following is based on the           keep it uncomplicated. With a few simple symbols and rules,
              workshop "Stumped? The Answer                 you can master the search engines on the Web.
              May Be on the Net...Somewhere,"
              which has been presented by the               Simple Engine Math
              authors worldwide.                            Four simple symbols are all you need:

                     he Web is an essential part of              1. +
                     the translator's daily life, a              2. -
                     source of information that
              allows us to complete tasks that would             4. *
              never before have been possible with-
              out access to a major reference library.      • By placing a plus or a minus sign in front of a term or
              It may seem chaotic, but the right tech-        phrase, you can require the term/phrase to be found or
              niques help us find the information we          excluded from your search.
              need. Each new translation topic pre-
                                                            • To search for a phrase, lock the words together with quota-
                                                              tion marks.
.. Studying the topic in both source and
                                                            • Many engines automatically search for singular and plural
     target languages helps the translator                    forms. but you may use the wildcard symbol (*) to broaden
 develop a working vocabulary used in                         your search.
         the field; searching the Web will
                                                            Here are some examples:
              provide examples of both...
                                                            a)   If you search for +white +house, only hits with both white
                                                                 AND house will be on the page, but they may be anywhere
               sents terminological challenges. - We             on the page.
               turn to the Web to find terminology
               that is not available in our dictionaries.   b)   If you search for "white house", only hits about a (any)
               Studying the topic in both source and             white house will be found.
               target languages helps the translator
              develop a working vocabulary used in          c)   If you search for +"white house" + "bill clinton", you
              the field; searching the Web will pro-             will get hits (most likely) about the White House in
              vide examples of both. Even if the                 Washington, DC—and the president, of course.
              source pages about the subject are not
              available in translation, by finding sim-     d) If you search for +"white house" + "bill clinton" –starr,
              ilar pages about the subject in the tar-         you will narrow the search a bit.
              get language, we get the right feel for
              the language used in the field. In some       e)   If you search for poli*, you will have hits for politics, policy,
              cases, we can match the terminology                police, political, etc.
              up with the information found on the
              source language page: in others, we           Note the Syntax:
              have to be satisfied with learning to            Make sure you put the signs immediately before the keywords
              speak the language of just that topic. In     or phrases in your entry, without any spaces between the sign and
              the end, the goal is to find the right        the term. You may use any or all of the symbols within the same
              term. from the right source, which is         query, just leave a space between each keyword or phrase.
              used in the right situation.
                  Searching the Internet can be as          10 Steps for an Efficient Search
              simple or as complicated as you wish          1) Analyze your question first to determine the type of search
              to make it. Personally, we prefer to             and search engine.
   • Do you want to learn more about the topic in the source        •   To get more information, follow
     or target language?                                                the links shown on the page you
   • Do you want the definition of a specific term?                     found.
   • Do you want to find the translation of a specific term?        •   Skim the search engine results
                                                                        before clicking on links—some-
2) Take the time to formulate your query.                               times the answer is right there.
3) Choose keywords.
                                                                        The Web offers a large array of
   • Use several keywords
                                                                    glossaries, and many people ask how
   • Use a keyword and add another one to restrict it to the
                                                                    to find a glossary on a certain topic.
     appropriate field.
                                                                    However, even if the topic is correct, it
                                                                    may not contain the term you need. If
4) Too many hits? Try narrowing your search further by
                                                                    you find your term in a glossary, you
   adding another word or two to your query to zero in the
                                                                    get the definition—but not the term in
   right field. For example, if you are searching for respirators
                                                                    the target language: a bilingual glos-
   for hospital use and not for protection while working,
                                                                    sary is needed for this. Follow these
   change the search to +respirator +hospital.
                                                                    steps to find: a) a glossary in a specific
                                                                    field, b) a term in a glossary, c) a bilin-
5) Narrow your search. To do this, you can also exclude a
                                                                    gual glossary in a specific field, and d)
   specific term from the search by putting a minus sign in
                                                                    a term in a bilingual glossary.
   front of the word. This is especially useful if your search
   yields too many hits for an irrelevant Website or topic.
                                                                    To find a glossary in a specific field:
6) If there are no hits, check spelling or try another search
                                                                        +field +glossary
                                                                       Use the word for glossary in the
7) Evaluate the quality. Once you have asked the right ques-
                                                                    same language as the field: glossaire,
   tions and found the answers, you must decide if the solu-
                                                                    ordlista, glosario, glossario, glossar.
   tions are acceptable. Check the quality by looking at the
                                                                    glossarium. This is useful for either
   information on the page. Is the context similar to that of
                                                                    target or source terminology. It is also
   your text? Who is the author? Look at the language and
                                                                    helpful for acquiring an understand-
                                                                    ing of a subject and the general termi-
                                                                    nology used. It's not helpful for find-
8) Validate your findings. Make sure the term works in the
                                                                    ing the definition of an exact term.
   target language in the proper context by looking it up again
   in the search engine. Who uses it? How?
                                                                    To find a term in a glossary:
9) Bookmark any site that looks promising.
                                                                        +term +glossary
10) Keep bookmarks in a current project folders . or file into
                                                                        Use the word for glossary in the lan-
   folders by topic.
                                                                    guage of the term to find the definition
                                                                    of the term in that language. This is
Useful Tips
                                                                    helpful for understanding the specific
• Use lowercase letters to capture all hits (if uppercase is
                                                                    term, with the added benefit of seeing
   used, only uppercase hits are included).
                                                                    other terminology in the same field. It
• Don't scroll: use the browser's Find function (CTRL-F) to
                                                                    is not helpful for finding the term in the
   locate the search term.
                                                                    other half of the language pair.
• Try shortening the URL to the next subheading, down to
   the main address. Valuable information could be hiding
   just an address away.                                                                 Continued on p. 24

ATA Chronicle • July 1999
Internet Search Strategies for Translators Continued

 To find a bilingual glossary in a specific   Example:
                                                  +arsredovisning +English
   +field +glossary +source_language
   +target_language                              In the best situation, the search results in a page in Swedish
                                              with a link to its equivalent in English—a glossary waiting to
Example: To find a finance glossary in        happen. If not, the page has the word "English" somewhere in
French and English, the query would be:       the text.

   +finance +glossary +English +French           Another method of letting the Web "translate" for you is to
   or                                         find a word in the source language on a page in the target lan-
   +finance +glossary +English                guage with an explanation or translation.
   • The combination of English.                 Search for the following word with the language set to
     anglais, French, or français is          French:
     irrelevant—combine at will.
   • Use the word for glossary in either            riksdag
                                                 This will bring you to a page in French with the proper
To find a term in a bilingual glossary:       terminology for the word "riksdag," which is written in paren-
                                              theses. Remember to verify the source to ensure reliability.
   +term +glossary +source_language
   +target_language                              Yet another method of using the search engine to "translate"
                                              takes advantage of the truncation feature. If you enter the
Example: To find the word "under-             beginning of a word and end it with *, Alta Vista will search
writer" in French and English, the            for all words that start with those letters. This can be used as a
query would be:                               lazy translator's tool, since many words have the same roots in
                                              different languages. For example, truncate the Swedish word
   +underwriter +glossary +English            "silanisera" by searching for silani* in English. Add a word
   +French                                    which will keep the results in the right field (in this case, the
   Or                                         topic was dental implants and the search was qualified with
   +underwriter +glossary +English            +implant).

   • The combination of English,
     anglais, French, or français is            +silani* +implant
     irrelevant—combine at will.
   • Use the word for glossary in                Search for the term in English, and there is the answer:
     either language.                         silanization. Verify the results by searching for the English
                                              term to ensure that it is used properly by the right native
   Glossaries are not the only source         speakers.
of terminology on the Web. Many
pages have been translated; some have            In addition to finding terminology, you can use the search
even been translated well (joke). You         engine to verify that a term is actually used by a certain group.
can search for a word in the source lan-      For example, to check whether a word is used in British
guage and add the target language to          English. take advantage of the search engine's "fielding func-
the query, with the goal of finding a         tion." In Alta Vista, search by "host" as shown in the example
page with a link to an identical page in      below. (Other search engines have similar functions. Check the
the second language.                          help pages for explanations.)

   host:uk ombudsperson
   host:uk ombudsman

    Run these two searches to find out which is more common
 in British English; the results:

   Sometimes a picture can be worth quite a few of a transla-
tor's words. Search engines can help you find a photo that will
make things fall into place—or will just allow you to have a
good time. Find a picture of a tractor to help you with your
work, or why not have a little fun in the example below. You
can use the search engine math mentioned earlier (+ -
Again. use Alta Vista's fielding function, and this time search
by "image":


   image: +"bill gates" +pie
   image: +tractor +"john deere"

  Try these techniques. and watch your efficiency soar. While
the actual search engines have not been discussed here, the
ones we find to be most useful in our work are listed below.
Check them out and review their features and help pages.

Search Engine Addresses
AltaVista at (language features, fielding)
HotBot at (language features)
Northern Light at (folders)
Inference Find at (metasearch,
   reduces duplicates)
Dogpile at (metasearch, select search
Google at (unique relevance approach)
Ask Jeeves at (natural language

Useful Addresses
Mabercom at
Translators' Site du jour at
Beaucoup (lists of search engines) at

ATA Chronicle • July 1999

Susan C. Rials
Independent Translator
(as published in the Proceedings of the 40 Annual Conference of the American Translators
Abstract: Today's translator has access to a vast array of research possibilities on the World
Wide Web. Millions of pages are just a few mouse clicks away. The working translator must
develop strategies to find the best information as efficiently as possible (and before succumbing
to information overload). This article addresses some approaches that can help optimize the
search process. In each step, from the planning phase through the search evaluation phase, there
are specific actions that can be taken to improve your searches. Careful planning, creative
thinking and the intelligent use of resources can lead you to the answers you need to improve the
quality of your translations.


This article was prepared from the perspective of a working translator who is not a professional
researcher but who uses the web every day to improve the quality of her work. It addresses
approaches and strategies that she finds effective in finding what she needs on the web. No
miraculous tricks can save the researcher from putting in some hard work, but these pointers may
help others focus their research efforts and improve their own search capabilities.


Before you start any web searching, explore the options available to you. Examine various
online sources and test several search tools to see how they work. Read through their help files.
Find out what others have to say about them. Run sample searches on two or three different sites
to see how they work. Then you can begin to plan your searches for a specific translation. First,
think about what you hope to find. Are you looking for general information about a client or a
concept? Do you need terminology? Are you looking for glossaries? Do you just want to get a
feel for your client's documentation style? This will help you decide where and how to begin.
Think about what research would be better done elsewhere. Try to consolidate as many searches
into one session as possible. Now you should select keywords for your search.


Using the right keywords is one of the most significant ways to improve your search results. The
choice of the most suitable terms along with the best combination of those terms, and the syntax
you use in each search engine or database, will be a key factor in determining your success.
Some pointers are:

•     Nouns are usually the best place to start.
•     More than one keyword will focus your search better, too many could narrow your options
      too much.
•     Think of the person who created the website that you think will have the answers you need.
      What keywords would that person be likely to have used? What synonyms might also lead
      you to good information?
•     Are there alternate words used widely to describe the concept you are looking for? For
      example, if you are looking for information about web sites, you might find information
      under "web site " as well as "website" or even "home page."
•     Should you consider alternate spellings? If you are searching for information about software
      localization, you might consider searching for both "localization" and "localisation." If you
      want to cover "localized" as well, you will need to adapt your search syntax.
•     Are there multiple meanings for the keyword? If you want information about a table, are you
      talking about furniture or a chart of numbers? You might also get hits about round table
      discussions, table tennis or a table of contents. This means you need to add words to focus
      your search. Searching for both table and furniture will focus the search.
•     Are you looking for an exact phrase? Put the phrase within quotation marks. Searching for
      "coffee table" will give you hits about coffee tables, while searching for the term without the
      quotation marks could return hits about coffee or about tables in addition to information
      about coffee tables. Focusing your search means you can minimize time spent wading
      through useless information.


4.1      Search Engines and General Directories

There is a distinction between search engines and directories. Typically, search engines are
compiled by computer programs (often called spiders, crawlers or bots) that search through
specific parts of the web. Directories are usually compiled by humans. Generally, search engines
cover much more territory than directories can, and are able to cover more current pages.
However, directories can give you more targeted results. AltaVista is one of the most commonly
used search engines; Yahoo is the most famous directory. (Ref. 1, Ref. 2)

4.2      Other Databases or Specific Directories

There are many search resources that are targeted to a specific subject matter or geographic
location. Most are free, although some charge an access fee. Some search the web for their
subject, while others search a special database. Some examples are:

• Eurodicautom (a multilingual database of European Union terminology) (Ref. 3)
ITU's   Termite (a multilingual database of telecommunications terminology) (Ref. 4)
• MedLine (medical subject searches) (Ref. 5)
• FindLaw (legal subject searches) (Ref. 6)
• (geographic searches by county or region) (Ref. 7)

43 Meta Search Engines

Meta Search Engines „allow you to search multiple sites simultaneously while entering your
keywords just once. „Their chief advantage is that .you can get a lot of information from one
place; their main drawback is that they are most suitable for simple searches. Since the various
sites can require different syntax for their searches, complex searches involving Boolean
operators are sometimes better left to individual search tools. The Internet Sleuth and Dogpile
are among the leading meta search engines. (Ref. 8, Ref. 9)

4.4 Search Tool Comparison

You can read comparisons of various search tools online (see's "The Right Engine
for the Job") (I) or find the information in books (such as Alfred and Emily Glossbrenner's
Search Engines for the World Wide Web or Michael Miller's The Complete Idiot's Guide to
Online Search Secrets) (2,3). And, of course, you can learn a great deal by reading the help files
of each search engine or directory. Some of the most useful criteria to consider are:

•   How broad is the coverage?
•   How are the results compiled?
•   How current are the returns?
•   How does the site use Boolean operators, if at all?
•   How easy is the interface?
•   How specialized is the coverage (geographical, subject, etc.)?
•   How easy is it to customize your search (Boolean operators, search for range of dates or on
    the web only or in web page titles only or in a specific domain only)?
•   How well-respected is this source among authorities?

Get to know the ones you use the most. For example, for obscure searches AltaVista will often
give you exactly what you want, but not until the second or third page of hits; Yahoo's hits that
are most useful are usually not the categories but the actual entries.


If your search resulted in too few hits, first check for typos. Then see whether there are
keywords that can be removed (if you have been too specific).

If you got too many hits, you can add keywords or adapt your syntax and try again.

Learn how to use Boolean operators to focus your search. There are excellent articles online
about this subject. Two that are especially good are Binghamton University's "Quick Reference
for Boolean Operators" (4) and the University at Albany's "Boolean Searching on the Internet'

Some search tools also offer a feature that allows you to focus your search on pages similar to
certain hits (sometimes called "more like this") while others offer links to targeted keywords that
may be exactly what you are looking for.


Monitor your time. You should always be thinking about how much time you want to invest in
any search. If you find yourself getting distracted and surfing off the topic, you might set aside
an hour a week for general surfing, and not allow yourself to get distracted when you have a
deadline and a particular research task at hand.


As with any research project, part of your task involves deciding how credible the information is.
When you go online, some of the same guidelines apply as to any research project, while others
specific to the web environment can also be helpful.

: Here are some criteria to think about:

•   Is the page part of a larger site? What do you know about that site?
•   Whose site is it? Is it from a university, corporation, government, international organization,
    informal goup or an individual?
•   How recently has it been updated?
•   Can you verify other information contained on the site? Is it accurate and well presented?
•   What do you know about the author or host?
•   What else is on the site?
•   How is the information presented? How easy is it to use? How authoritative does it appear
    to be?
•   What do other credible sources think about it? Has it been reviewed by someone whose
    opinion you trust? Do the leaders in the field have links to the site? Has it been
    recommended by colleagues?

Further information about qualifying your sources is available online in Hope N. Tillman's
article "Evaluating Quality on the Net." (6)


Once you have completed a search, think about what worked well and what did not. How could
your have improved it? Should you have begun the search somewhere else? Should you have
phrased the search differently? Did you fail to think of a simple technique that could save time?
Did you spend too much time or give up too early? Use this experience the next time you start a

Manage the information you acquired. If you found a page that will probably be valuable many
times, bookmark it. Control your bookmarks so that they can be as useful to you as possible. It
is useless to bookmark every page you visit; if you do this, it will take far too much time to find
the one address you need. Create folders and subfolders for the bookmarks you decide to keep.
Review your bookmarks regularly and remove those that are no longer useful or valid.

Share the best information with colleagues. If you find a valuable site, e-mail the address to
others who you think could use it or post the information on a translator forum or mailing list. If
you learn a great new trick, share your knowledge. If others pass along tips to you, check them
out and incorporate new ideas into your next search.


There are many things you can do regularly on the Internet to keep up with your languages, your
specializations and translation in general. You can join mailing lists or newsgroups, make regular
visits to pertinent sites and periodically surf for specific subjects or just for serendipity (when
deadlines are not looming). Follow advances in search technology. The Search Engine Watch
(7) and's Web Search (8) are good places to go back to from time to time.

9.        CONCLUSION

With planning, thought, creativity and experience, translators can do a tremendous amount of
research right from their work stations. This will improve the quality of their work and free their
time to be spent on other activities, whether that means earning more money or relaxing with
friends and family. Either way, it is worth the investment.


1. "The Right Engine for the Job,", Daniel A. Tauber and Brenda Tiernan, 16
February 1998 <<hrtu://www.cnet.comiContent/FeaturesiD El fe/Habits; ss0 1 a.html>>

2. Glossbrenner, Alfred and Emily. Search Engines for the World Wide Web, Second Edition,
Peachpit Press, 1999.

3. Miller, Michael. The Complete Idiot's Guide to Online Search Secrets, Que, 1999.

4. "Quick Reference for Boolean Operators," Binghamton University Libraries, created 30 June,
1998, last revised 27 July, 1999
            Http:// library.i bingnamton.eauiwebdocs/boolean-reterence.titmi >>

5. "Boolean Searching on the Internet," Laura Cohen, July 1999. University at Albany
<< http://www. alb anv. edw I ibraryiin temet/boo lean.html >>

6. "Evaluating Quality on the Net," Hope N. Tillman, created 1995, last revised 2 January 1999.
Babson College << www.tiac.nettusers/hope/findqual.html >>

7. "Search Engine Watch," Ed. Danny Sullivan,                        <<littp://searchenqinewatch.comi>>

8. "Web Search," Ed. Chris Sherman, 1999. Aboutcom                        <<>>


1.   AltaVista http://www.ahavista.corn/
2.   Yahoo
3.   Eurodicautom
4.   Termite
5.   MedLine
6.   FindLaw
8.   Internet Sleuth
9.   Dogpile

                                                  Localization, Internationalization,
                                                     Globalization, and Translation
                                                                                               By Tim Altanero

        y now, you've probably run across the terms localiza-        terms we have discussed so far. Espe-
         don (L 10n), internationalization (I18n), and globaliza-    cially in our burgeoning ""
         tion (Glln), and may have wondered what they mean           economy, the resources often do not
or how to become part of this explosive, lucrative market. All       exist to hire and maintain a staff of
of these terms are generally thought of as belonging exclu-          internationally-savvy employees, which
sively to the high tech industry, particularly software. They are    is why we continue to see companies
viewed as a relatively recent complication to the global mar-        following the localization-international-
keting of products and services.                                     ization-globalization path. While the
   The majority of localization is from English to another lan-      greatest efficiency may be achieved by
guage, because the majority of the world's software is pro-          adopting a globalization vision at the
duced in the United States. Since taking off in the 1980s and        outset, a country as large as the U.S.
1990s, localization-related businesses have tended to congre-        tends to lean toward an insular vision,
gate in Ireland. That country was chosen for its proximity to        leading to a distinctly monolingual pool
Europe, favorable tax structure, European Union membership.          of locally available talent.
and English-speaking population. Today, nearly every major
high tech firm from Microsoft to Cisco has at least a small
office in Ireland, and the country has responded to industry          ... Especially in our burgeoning
needs by building an educational infrastructure that is yet to be
                                                                      "" economy, the resources
rivaled by the United States.
                                                                      often do not exist to hire and maintain
Definitions                                                           a staff of internationally-savvy
    It is usually easiest to think of localization, international-
ization, and globalization in that order, although a truly            employees...
visionary business would think in reverse. Let's examine why.
    Localization is the process of getting a product and its
accompanying documentation adapted to a local market. It             How Do High Tech Companies
includes considerations such as translation, adapting currency,      Handle Localization?
measurement, time, and date conventions appropriate to the               The nature of high tech industry is
local market, adjusting software code to function properly.          profoundly variable to the extent that
resizing dialog boxes, defining shortcut key conventions, and        required resources vary over a product
even deciding the size of the box in which the product will be       release cycle. As such, linguistic and
shipped. In sum, the process consists of all the activities nec-     engineering needs ebb and peak, cre-
essary to make the product look and act is if it were native to      ating a need for flexible temporary
the locale in which it is intended to be sold.                       workers. It may be called freelance,
   The localization process can be vastly simplified by inter-       temp, or consulting, but in all but the
nationalizing the initial engineering phase of a project. Soft-      largest companies, resources do not
ware can contain millions of lines of code, making it difficult      permit the retention of expensive spe-
to find text that requires translation. By isolating translatable    cialist staff during the period between
text from code in resource files, the integrity of code can be       product releases.
protected, resulting in reduced testing costs. Dialog boxes that         In general, translation is looked upon
resize automatically to accommodate text expansion save              as a necessary, yet ancillary, component
countless hours. Preparing glossaries of industry-specific           of the larger localization project.
terms prevents multiple translations of the same concept,            Depending on the company, translation
leading to a tighter, more consistent interface. All of this pre-    is either outsourced, or consultants are
planning for localization is at the core of the internationaliza-    hired. The job of the consultant is to
tion process.                                                        render the source language into the
   Finally, there is globalization, which can be easily defined as   target language while maintaining
the condition in which all procedures and processes company-         source code integrity. A consultant's
wide are structured in a way that facilitates localization. How-
ever, creating this condition is the most difficult of the three                         Continued on p. 48

ATA Chronicle • May 2000                                                                                          47
     Localization, Internationalization, Globalization, and Translation Continued

      work is normally overseen by an in-        management, translation memory database development, Web-
      house localization manager, or simi-       site translation, terminology management, and glossary cre-
      larly titled individual, who has exper-    ation, among others.
      tise in two or more languages, in addi-       Localization vendors provide efficiency for a market that
      tion to extensive project management       requires labor only at limited intervals. By combining projects
      experience and some knowledge of           from many companies at one location, the temporary nature of
      computer programming. Often, the           the work is eliminated, providing stable employment for those
      localization manager is among only a       with specialized skills.
      small handful of permanent staff that
      deals with international issues related     Basic Skills and Tools for Localization
      to software production.                        In order to enter the localization field as a translator, a
          If a company decides to hire con-       broad-based education is the key. In addition to the linguistic
      sultants, these will, ideally, work in-     qualifications required of any translator, some engineering
      house. Such an arrangement allows for       skills are necessary. The ability to understand computer code is
      inter-lingual consultation among trans-     vital. While it may not be necessary to write your own code, it
      lators of different languages, and per-     will be essential to be able to work within code that is already
      mits the impromptu exchange of ideas        written. For example, the ability to distinguish between code,
      and work procedures with engineers          notes, links, and translatable text is necessary to successfully
      and others that will assist in making       translate a piece of software. A primer course in hyper text
      the project run smoothly. This method       mark-up language (html) would be a good start.
      of translation, though efficient for the       Educational opportunities in localization are on the
      company, is also expensive and              increase, though still rare. The University of Washington in
      requires that additional time be spent     Seattle offers a Certificate in Localization, and Kent State in
     recruiting and screening translators, in    Ohio and the Monterey lnstitute in California offer coursework
      addition to purchasing publishing or       as well. Austin Community College in Texas has a localization
     development software tools in each of       curriculum in the works. Overseas institutions, particularly the
     the target languages. Furthermore,          University of Limerick in Ireland, offer graduate degrees in
     there is the added cost of storing,         localization and localization engineering.
     maintaining, developing, and man-               In addition to code of various sorts, there are also a number
     aging legacy documentation and soft-        of tools that have become industry standards when working
     ware from previous releases.                with localization. For publishing, MS Word and Adobe
         Because of the difficulty of man-       FrameMaker are common tools. For online help development,
     aging projects in-house, many compa-        RoboHelp is common, and if PDFs (portable document
     nies opt for a localization vendor. Over    format—a common, cross-platform electronic document
     the past 10 years, localization vendors     format) are required, Adobe Acrobat will be necessary as well.
     have emerged from consolidations,           These software tools are not difficult to learn, but they are
     start-ups, and mergers within the           pricey, ranging from $200 to more than $1,000. That is a con-
     industry in response to the torrent of      siderable investment for a freelancer, but may be worth it if the
     demand for such services from high          pay rate for a given project justifies the expense.
     tech companies. Among the largest of            Finally, there are tools specifically for translators that may
     such firms are Lionbridge, Lernout &        be worth considering if you have a large volume of translations
     Hauspie, ILE, Bowne, and SDL. These         that tend to be repetitive. This is often the case with localiza-
     companies have large in-house staffs        tion, where writing is highly structured and contained so as to
     specializing in many different areas        be clear, concise, and easily readable. Translation memory
     such as engineering, project manage-        tools such as Trados, Star's Transit, SDLX, and Deja Vu,
     ment, linguistics, terminology, and         among others, assist with terminology management, glossary
     translation, just to name a few areas.      creation, and translation memory database development. They
     Some of the services offered by such        can greatly increase translation speed by matching similar
     firms include engineering, testing,
     quality assurance, translation, project                                                  Continued on p. 60

48                                                                                     ATA Chronicle • May 2000
     Localization, Internationalization, Globalization, and Translation Continued from p. 48
     strings from legacy work for the translator to edit.    accessed and with which foreign markets can access
     For those with an engineering background, localiza-     the U.S. has lead to an enormous boom in the need
     tion development environment tools such as              for quality translations in the context of localization.
     ForeignDesk, among others, are popular because          Localization appears likely to continue its breakneck
     they provide a WYSIWYG (what-you-see-is-what-           growth rate, and it is a lucrative field. While the
     you-get) environment. These tools are costly as well,   details may seem daunting at first, the industry is
     and purchasing them depends largely on the              undergoing constant and major changes that are
     cost/benefit analysis of your project.                  likely to bring the costs of tools and training within
                                                             reach of freelancers. When computers became
     Conclusion                                              household appliances, nearly every freelancer
        The Internet has provided all computer-literate      learned to use a word processor. It may be only a
     humanity with easy access to every product sold on      matter of time before code becomes second nature.
     online. The ease with which foreign markets can be

60                                                                                                   ATA Chronicle • May 2000

               As Tough as it Gets—But How Tough?

               By Leon McMorrow

               (Note: This article is a modified ver-          Translation and interpretation are tasks that are inherently
               sion of a paper published in the             difficult. The uncertain record of machine translation stands as
               Proceedings of the ATA Annual                evidence. This inherent difficulty has implications that go
               Conference in St. Louis, Missouri on         beyond the communication itself:
               November 3-6, 1999.)

                                                               Time: The greater the difficulty, the longer the task. If "time
                      he ability to assess the diffi-          is money," then more expense is incurred.
                      culty of a particular job is one
                      of the "trade secrets" that is           Skills: The greater the difficulty, the higher the skill level
               developed unconsciously with transla-           required to perform the task. The higher the required skill,
               tion experience. It is very' ,      for         the more education and experience (i.e., specialization),
               accepting/declining jobs, determining           are required.
               readiness for an ATA accreditation
               examination, negotiating for the best           The hi g her the required specialization and the longer the
               price with a client, and especially for      task, the more resources will have to be consumed. This should
               developing self-esteem and gaining a         be reflected in the calculation and pricing of the translation job.
               professional reputation.                     Like a spreading wave, the difficulty of the subject matter in
                                                            translation and interpretation impacts upon the translator's
                                                            career and the profession.
 ...The ability to assess the difficulty of
                                                            Is Specialization Worth the Effort, the Time, the Expense?
     a particular job is one, of the "trade                    Some say that "generalists" and "flat rates" are, and
secrets" that is developed unconsciously                    should be, the standard within the profession. This may
            with translation experience...                  indeed be valid within fields that present no great range of
                                                            difficulty for translation, such as history, travel, hospitality.
                                                            and social sciences. But there are many fields that do not
                  But how does one develop this             have narrow linguistic limits, such as engineering, chemistry.
               ability? Is it possible to attach            law, and medicine. Certainly in medicine, with its dozens of
               "markers" to translation or interpreta-      sub-fields and "health-related professions." there is a world
               tion topics that may objectively clas-       of difference between the skills required of the lowest ranks
               sify jobs by grade of difficulty?            and the highest ranks of professional. Appropriately, there are
                  The field of medical documentation        documents written for the least skilled health professionals
               includes some objective markers that         and also documents destined only for the highly educated.
               give adequate, if not perfect, clues to      Educational investment, skills, liability risks, and financial
               the difficulty that may be expected          rewards vary along a consistent upward line that reflects the
               when contemplating whether to under-         difficulty of the tasks encountered and the literature that
               take a particular assignment.                accompanies them.
                                                               Medical professionals are expected to know their limits
               Professional Implications                    and not to accept what is beyond them. Otherwise they incur
                  "Difficulty" is a concept indicating      liability. On the other side, clients should pay for the level
               the absence of ease and comfort in per-      of service they get, no more and no less. But why should an
               forming a task. It is at least a human       easy translation be priced like a difficult one, as in flat-rate
               perception; we don't know if animals         pricing? I know I hate being charged for the "average"
               have it. For the person involved in the      number of hours assigned to my car repair job by some
               task, ease and comfort in performance        association of car repairers, regardless of how long it took.
               also induce efficiency and personal          The problem may be that translators, interpreters, and
               satisfaction: we do it fast, do it well,     others do not or cannot decide what is more difficult and
               and do it with pleasure (at least, in get-   less difficult in any particular case. If so, then we should be
               ting it over with—not all tasks are          working to solve the problem of determining difficulty, not
               appealing, even though easy).                avoiding it.

24                                                                                              ATA Chronicle • March 2000
Sources of Difficulty in Translation                                  • Are the levels of difficulty static?
   The origin of difficulty in monolingual linguistic commu-            No. With increases in knowledge we
nication is multifaceted. Several factors play a role, often            expect changes in levels of difficulty
simultaneously:                                                         of terminology within a field. What
                                                                        is meant by basic knowledge and
 1. Lack of ability of writers or speakers to express themselves        basic level of ,difficulty now differs
    well, producing a kind of mumbo-jumbo that has words,               from what it meant 20 years ago.
    often lots of them, but little meaning. Some modern music
    lyrics fit the bill, while politicians avoiding discussion of a      Society has already partially answered
    thorny issue frequently rely on meaningless discourse             these questions in a practical way.
    ("First, let me say..." is a sure indicator!). I once got fired   Science and technology are knowl-
    from a simultaneous interpretation job because I insisted on      edge-related fields and society stratifies
    waiting until the speaker made a meaningful statement: I          these professions on the basis of
    would not regurgitate the flow of broken words and phrases        acquired knowledge and skills. Pro-
    used as tiller. This is "incidental" difficulty.                  fessional language matches the dif-
                                                                      ferent levels of stratification. Let us
   Inability of the reader or listener (through lack of mental        apply this technique to medicine, a very
   capacity, education, or experience) to comprehend the par-         large profession in most of the world.
   ticular type of discourse—one is simply out of one's depth.
   This, too, is "incidental" difficulty.                              Medical Documentation
                                                                          The medical translator and inter-
3. Factors in the document (for translation) or the discourse          preter face a field that has already strat-
   (for interpretation) that make it esoteric or rare: it was pro-    ified the skills required to perform cer-
   duced for a special group of readers or listeners who already      tain jobs and also the documentation
   have training or experience in the modes of expression used.       categories that match those skills. The
   Examples are archaic writings (e.g., Early English) and sci-       difficulty of the content and language
   entific-technical documentation. i.e.. documentation proper        of a particular category of document is
   to a particular interest, trade, or profession.                    linked, in most cases. to the profes-
                                                                      sional skill level of the reader. As a
   When the additional factor of bilingual or multilingual corn-      result, two closely related and overlap-
munication is added, we have a profound mixture of sources of         ping guides to documentary difficulty
difficulty. No wonder examiners, advertisers, and other people        exist: the professional level of the
grading the difficulty of linguistic products have a problem!         reader (For whom was this document
   Our intent here is to illustrate a practical solution. First,      intended?) and the type of document in
decide whether the difficulty lies in the people or in the special    question (What type of document is
type of language involved. Compare with peers. The first and          it?). Both are objective measures of dif-
second factors listed above may be addressed simply and               ficulty in the sense of being field-deter-
directly through remedial measures to reach the norm. Then,           mined. They have nothing to do with
address the issues involved in the third factor above:                the education, language skills, or expe-
                                                                      rience of the translator or interpreter.
• Are there levels of difficulty within scientific-technical doc-
  umentation? Of course—the Introduction to Chemistry text-           For Whom Was This Document
  book is different from a Laboratory Procedures manual.              Intended?
                                                                         There are three broad categories of
• Who decides what is difficult in a document—difficult for           medical occupation: technician, nurse,
  whom? For a student in the field? A general practitioner? A         and physician. Within these categories
  specialist? We cannot ignore the relativity of the concept of       many auxiliary occupations and sub-
  difficulty within professional language. Otherwise, tiered          specialists exist. All these occupations
  examinations would be meaningless—a student and spe-
  cialist would take the same examination.                                                 Continued on p. 26
 have determined a knowledge and skill           It is  worth Listing the names of these documents since they
 level appropriate to the tasks at hand         are almost uniform in presentation and very specific in content.
 and have indicated who is certified to         If you can get the name of the medical report or special-pur-
 perform the :tasks. If you know the            pose document, you will often have a very good idea of what
 occupation(s) of the intended reader-          level of, difficulty you are facing.
 ship of a piece of medical documenta-
 tion, you can, in Most cases, accurately       Patient Medical Record
  determine the level of difficulty of the         There is a somewhat standard method of creating and main-
 documentation itself. This is perhaps          taining a patient's medical record. This is more closely adhered
 so obvious to those within medicine            to in an in-patient setting (hospital or clinic) than a doctor's
 that it does not need statement.               office, where less people may be using it. The order of the
     Experienced medical translators and        reports that follow also adheres to this method, and is typical
 interpreters are indeed aware of it when       of a single episode of illness and care.
 accepting or rejecting a job or when
 determining the style or register of trans-      1.   History and physical examination (H&P)
 lation—they tease out the implications           2.   Physician's progress notes
 of the occupation of the readership or           3.   Consultants' reports
 audience, if known. A subliminal reprise         4.   Operative reports
 in the job acceptance ballet is the ques-        5.   Laboratory reports (chemistry: radiology: ECG. EEG,
 tion: Am I able to translate/interpret for            CT. MRI, sonography)
 this reader or listener? If I am, how long       6.   Nurses' progress notes
will the job take and what will be my             7.   Client assessment, review, and evaluation (CARE)
charge? For those who are not already             8.   Medication list
conscious of it, this should become an            9.   Discharge summary—Orders*
internalized routine when discussing a
job offer over the phone or by e-mail.             (*ln the case of a hospital stay, the discharge summary and
                                                   orders will be #1 and the physician's history and physical
 What Type of Document Is It?                      examination will often be called the -admission history and
     In many cases, the translator will not        physical examination," and placed at the end of the physi-
 be able to find out the occupation or field       cian's section of the hospital chart.)
 of the intended reader, or the intended
 audience in the case of interpreters. Many         Who are the intended readers of the patient medical record
of us get work from agencies and some           or any of its component reports? Primarily physicians. since
agency personnel do not have this infor-        they have responsibility for the overall therapy. Nurses have
mation, either because they never asked         their own section (# 6 above), and so do dietitians, respiratory
for it or for some reason it was not made       technicians, physical therapists, pathologists and laboratory
available. In such cases, the next step is to   technicians (#5), social workers (#7), and pharmacy represen-
ask about the title or type of document.        tatives (#8). Nurse practitioners, physician assistants, medical
Medical documentation falls into two            record administrators, and medical record technicians are also
general types (general health care writing      trained to read full patient medical records for clinical or non-
for lay people is not under review here):       clinical reasons. The knowledge or skill attached to individual
"reports" and "special-purpose" docu-           parts of the patient medical record is closely tied to the title or
ments. The first is intended for insertion      occupation of the medical person. If you have to translate an
into a patient's medical record. The            entire patient medical record (or interpret it), you will face the
second is intended for sharing informa-         whole range of both general and specialist medical termi-
tion, for education within the multiple         nology. Much of it is repetitive, both within and between
branches of the medical profession itself,      episodes of care. That said, there is always room for surprises.
and for communication with institutions         Only a skilled translator/interpreter should undertake this task
in the outside world (insurance, legal,         since the consequences of error may be very serious, in addi-
government. etc.).                              tion to bringing disgrace upon the translation profession.

                                                                                    ATA Chronicle • March 2000
Special-Purpose Documentation                                         expected if the admitting (provisional)
1. Clinical trial reports (IRBs , CRFs, consent forms, status         or final diagnosis is known.
     reports, completion reports)                                         With regard to "special-purpose"
2. Research articles                                                  documentation, the picture is not yet
3. Case studies                                                       clear. The range of difficulty within and
4. Drug prescribing information (a package insert required by         between the classes of documents men-
    the FDA for every marketed drug). For medical devices,            tioned above depends not only upon the
    instruction manuals or package inserts serve the same pur-        level of medical knowledge used, but
    pose; (see #I1)                                                   also on the level of knowledge of allied
5. New drug applications (NDAs) or related applications to            medical or completely nonmedical
    the FDA                                                           fields. Medical practice interacts
6. Consent forms                                                      closely with the industrial. legal, insur-
7. Communicable disease reports to a state or federal agency          ance, commercial, and governmental
8. Medical reports to a third party for grants or reimburse-          systems in a modem society. Many of
    ment purposes                                                     the documents in the "special-purpose"
9. Depositions for legal use                                          category are hyphenated medical in
10. Medical device or drug patents                                    character medico-legal. medico-engi-
11. Manuals and package inserts for equipment. devices,               neering, medico-economic, medico-
    quality control. etc.                                             bureaucratic, and so on. They straddle
12. Legislation. regulations. guidelines , standards, and proce-      two or more professions. One may be
    dures relating to medical products and practice.                  very skilled in handling the medical arm
                                                                      of the document or discourse, but fall
   The readership of "special-purpose" medical documenta-             down on the nonmedical. These are
tion is very large and variable. Once the title of the document       areas for continuing education of the
is known, however, a clue is generated that may be followed           medical translator/interpreter. It would
up. It is the best indicator we have at present. There is no occu-   be an enormous benefit to the profes-
pation-related formula that will cover "special-purpose" docu-       sion if systematic courses in "hyphen-
mentation such as we had for patient medical records. Not even       ated medical" terminology and meaning
the physician can be automatically included in the intended          were offered at a national or regional
readership. It is an area that needs much more research. but         level. The ATA conferences do produce
some issues and practical solutions will be discussed below.         an occasional paper on microbiology,
                                                                     biochemistry, medical engineering,
Discussion                                                           etc. —excellent in themselves, but far
   In the case of the patient's medical record, recognition of       from adequate for the continuing educa-
different levels of difficulty within categories of medical doc-     tion needs of the profession.
umentation may be a problem. One cautionary area needs to                The best practical response of the
be mentioned: the history and physical examination (H&P).            translator/interpreter in this area of
All H&Ps are not alike. The range of medical conditions of           "special-purpose" documentation is to
the patient may cover very common problems like injuries,            develop mental pictures of the difficul-
nasal congestion', or indigestion, as well as rarer metabolic        ties that may encroach from these
disorders, cancers, neuropathies, or syndromes. These last           "marginal" fields and to respond
conditions will fatten the H&P with consultant reports and           accordingly. When discussing a
more specialized laboratory tests. The terminology used will         "special-purpose" document with a
match the range of disorders. Therefore, the H&P is a docu-          client. spend a few minutes teasing out
ment type that requires some caution, and it may turn out to         the indicators that will provide a clue
be a dream or a nightmare for the translator. Most of the other      to the content. If the subject or topic
reports, however, are relatively straightforward: nurses notes       seems to be more nonmedical " than
will always describe symptoms and responses or reactions.            medical, and you are uncomfortable
Laboratory reports will normally be "routine" with occasional
specialized tests. but even the presence of these may be                                  Continued on p. 28
     about it, you still need as many clues as      "You say it is a legal document—what is the topic? A law-
     possible before deciding to reject—per-        suit? A contract? A breach of contract? New legislation?"
     haps the influence- from other fields is
     relatively minor. Here are some typical        "So, it is a package insert (or user instructions/manual/
     parts of a deal-making conversation:           brochure). For what product? Are there pictures, drawings?
                                                    Do you know what branch of engineering it represents
        "You say it is a patent—do you              (electrical/mechanical/chemical/software)?"
        know what the patent is for? A
        drug? A medical device? What do             "So it 'looks like an article from a medical journal—did you
        the drawings look like? Are there a         check for an English abstract to find out what is about? (The
        lot of unusual characters—with              abstract may be at the end of the article). Did you get a general
        subscripts, superscripts, etc.? Can         idea from talking to your client of what it about, or who the
        you describe them?"                         readers will be? Is it for publication or internal research only?"

                                                    (Here, the document is a "m y stery" to the agency project
                                                    manager.) "Do you know Spanish (French. Russian. etc.)?
                                                    Good. Will you look at the first sentence of the first para-
                                                    graph on page 3 and the first sentence of the first paragraph
                                                    on page 5 and read them out to me? Better still, send me a
                                                    sample. I have a 24-hour fax machine and will send you
                                                    back an answer within 15 minutes."

                                                    With experience (the wider the better), one becomes very
                                                 good at this pas a deux—with an occasional surprise: a docu-
                                                 ment that turns out to be highly deceptive, both in its title and
                                                 in the first few pages. When requesting a sample. make sure
                                                 that at least one of the pages comes from a place about 70 per-
                                                 cent of the way to the end. Just as in a tumor. the core of a doc-
                                                 ument is the best location for sampling.

                                                      Classification of jobs by difficulty is a constant task for
                                                  the interpreter and translator. It is inherent in the practice of
                                                  the profession and we should not shirk it. both for our own
                                                  self-esteem and out of respect for the client. In medicine, the
                                                  best approach to the task for translators is through the
                                                  intended readership. or for interpreters through the intended
                                                  audience. Begin to develop a list (a mental one is sufficient)
                                                  of the types of material you encounter and link them to what
                                                 you know about the reader, and secondarily to the technical
                                                  title of the document if it has one. Gradually you will build
                                                  up a mental library of named documents you can handle and
                                                  those you still cannot face (we all have them) due to their
                                                  inherent difficulty as described above. You will become con-
                                                 scious of the time factor involved in your work, and with
                                                 these two important variables for pricing under your control
                                                 (skill level and time), you will be able to put a fair price upon
                                                 your job. You will also impress clients if you can discuss the
                                                 job in terms they use every day.

28                                                                                   ATA Chronicle • March 2000
             To Go Where No One has Gone Before:
             A Natural Evolution of the Translator's Role and Mission
             By Marie C. Marrien

             j    ust a few years ago, I was a full-
                  time homemaker and part-time
                  language teacher. At that time, I
             did not consider myself as anything
             more than an isolated translator. Since
                                                       A Natural Evolution
                                                           As I watch the world slowly become globalized as more
                                                       cultures strive to communicate with each other, I realize how
                                                       much the need for translation is increasing. More and more, we
                                                       must not only be able to communicate in the other languages,
             then, communication has changed dra-      but also have an understanding of the cultural context, of those
             matically, and I have found myself        we deal with in order for our businesses to succeed. Even as we
             moving in a new direction, adapting       become more savvy as both employees and consumers, our
             my goals and professional vision to       translations must be seamless in our native language or the
             reflect the coming of age of a new        message will fail—whether it's an advertisement for a multi-
             global community.                         billion dollar corporation or a presentation to employees on
                                                       their new safety program.
                                                          My love of language and people is the fundamental drive
   ... Because today's technology now                  that helped me take the first step toward becoming a translator.
       makes everyday communication                    Searching for answers has always been part of the mission of
                                                       my job, and the new developments in global communication
b tween cultures commonplace, I no                     and subsequent need for language specialists has encouraged
       longer think of myself as just an               me to rethink what translation means to me and how our
                                                       profession has finally come into its own.
             isolated translator but as a
                    global ambassador...               From Teacher to Translator
                                                           My move from teaching to translating brought new chal-
                                                       lenges, but the two professions held many similarities. A key
                 Personally, I believe my profes-      requirement for success in both is the ability to listen and create
             sional path evolved quite naturally.      according to the demands of a particular situation. Basically the
             As a French native who has resided in     objective is the same: to facilitate communication. For me. my
             the U.S. for several years, and having    education helped to fulfill the requirements I would need as a
             met all the requirements to be a          translator. With a background in literature, I was taught the
             teacher, it seems quite natural that I    subtlety of my native language. My background in economics
             would use my language skills as a         and psychology helped me learn some of the finesse of com:
             tool to help facilitate communication     munication in a corporate world. A talent for language
             between cultures. As a fan of French      combined with these elements gave me the confidence to make
             literature, I love my native language.    the transition from teacher to professional translator.
             Books are part of my life, as opposed         As I taught adults, I became more aware of the frustrations
             to TV or the movies. I have a natural     caused by time constraints. I also learned more about the other
             curiosity and interest in people, and a   subjects on my students' agendas, and of the importance of
             desire to strive for understanding. I     creating a link between what they were studying and how this
             love to capture the essence of words      knowledge could be applied to the real-life practice of trans-
             and now, with all my years of experi-     lation. Many times I ended up sitting down next to them and
             ence, I feel that I am in an advanta-     showing the direct application of our lessons to their own sit-
             geous position in terms of utilizing      uations. No traditional language program will tell you how to
             my skills and love of language to         do that.
             transmit meaning in both French and           A good educator teaches not only the basic skills of lan-
             English. Because today's technology       guage, but also the aspects of the culture in which it is spoken.
             now makes everyday communication          Such an educator will need observation skills, intercultural
             between cultures commonplace, I no        comprehension. creativity, and the ability to communicate and,
             longer think of myself as just an iso-    of course, the willingness to learn more. The same is required
             lated translator, but as a global         of a translator.
             ambassador offering my services to            In an attempt to organize my approach to translation, I
             an ever-increasing market.                asked myself three key questions:
      1.What is translation?                                              where translators have not had to go
      2. Who are the parties involved?                                    before...taking on the role of consul-
      3. What skills are required?                                        tant/educator, communicator, and glo-
                                                                          bal ambassador.
       I tried to approach translation as a tool, one that enables
    communication between people. I became aware that, as a pro-          From Translator, to Communicator, to
    fessional, I was an intermediary between two worlds. The              Global Ambassador: The New "You"
    acknowledgment that translation was not an isolated practice,         Embracing the Client's Mission
    but a necessary tool for successful communication between                 A new translation project is like
    cultures, appeared quite clearly.                                     embarking on a journey. You learn
        This realization made me want to learn about all the parties      about and absorb the content itself—
    involved in the translation process. These individuals include        the mission behind the words. You
    the client, the target audience, the other contributors to the dia-   must not hesitate to act as a consultant
    logue, and the "maker," or translator himself. It is important to     to the client. It is the consultant's role
    keep in mind that not all the objectives and/or interests of these    to suggest to the client that the results
    individuals will be the same.                                         may be different from their expecta-
        By thinking about translation from the client's perspective,      tions. There are a variety of factors that
    I was able to identify several needs. Clients give you a product,     can effect the outcome, for example, a
    which often has a desired goal or "mission." They will invest         lack of contextual reference points for
    in your service to achieve this goal and, in return, they expect      an unknown concept in the target lan-
    you to produce results as quickly and efficiently as possible.        guage. A project can also fail simply
        Several questions appear to be fundamental. What is the           because the approach lacks the cultural
    job? What is the mission, if any? What are the client's expec-        elements necessary to reach the tar-
    tations? What are his resources? How much does he want to             geted audience. As a translator dealing
    invest? Frankly, some clients do not want, nor do they need,          with corporate policies, you may be
    a cultural specialist. Each job may require different levels of       required to "rewrite" a poorly written
    investment from both the client and the translator. I have            or culturally inappropriate document.
    seen rates for translation organized by quality levels (for           Therefore, beyond excellent language
    example, A, B, C, or D), signifying the level of "perfection"         and writing skills, you must be able to
    required. This is a realistic approach in light of budgetary          work with the client, explaining how to
    and time constraints.                                                 best approach the project to achieve
       Who is the recipient? Who are the other potential contribu-        the desired goal. One of the greatest
    tors? What skills are required? Not only must translators pos-        challenges in freelancing is educating
    sess an excellent understanding of the languages involved, but        the client while working within the
    also an ability to write them. There is no doubt that the time of     confines of his expectations, all
' translating with pencil and paper is over. In most instances, we        without underselling your services.
    are now forced to be computer literate. Unfortunately, we also           One key to success is to anticipate
    know that our profession, composed mainly of freelancers,             your client's needs. In the ideal rela-
    lacks formal guidelines for education and accreditation. As the       tionship, you will get to know the
    demands of the profession continue to grow, we must continue          client well enough to look beyond the
    to grow with it.                                                      actual job that is entrusted to you and
       In light of this approach, many unanswered needs appeared          understand their mindset and strategy.
    so strongly that I felt compelled to go beyond the traditional        Knowing your client well means being
    ways of thinking about translation.                                   able to anticipate their future needs. As
,      It seems obvious that a new horizon is opening to our pro-         such, it is important to keep informed
    fession. We are moving beyond taking text from clients and            of business and economic trends that
    spitting it out in another language. Let the software pro-            affect your client's industry.
    grams attempt to do that (usually with no great success).
    Even with the best software you cannot replace the human
    side of communication in any language. Our mission is to go                                Continued on p. 46
To Go Where No One has Gone Before Continued

Customizing Your Work                         a translator to achieve the desired impact. For instance, in a
    I strongly believe that it is important   marketing campaign, you have to take the right approach to
to provide not only high quality work,        motivate your audience. And to get a positive response, the
but the service to back it up. Paying         translator must adapt the original message to the perspective of
attention to each individual, sometimes       the target culture.
to several within the same company, has          In such cases, being consistent and insuring the consistency of
proven to be quite efficient while at the     terminology is fundamental. You may want to discuss this aspect
same time enriching my translation            of the job with your client and their foreign audience or counter-
skills, my approach, my tools, ' and my       parts. Remember, part of your job is to facilitate communication.
specialties for each client. Being there         Learn how to take initiative. Become familiar with the nature
for each individual who has asked for         of the document and be creative, but consult with your client to
my services (sometimes even in an             avoid misunderstandings and confusion. Be clear and confi-
emergency crisis) and producing the           dent. If you have all the information in hand and are convinced
expected result reinforces the trans-         you are right, then discuss it tactfully and stand up for excel-
lator/client relationship. This may seem      lence. Remember that whatever you do, you do not do for your-
obvious, but most clients have unique         self, but in the best interest of the client and his target audience.
needs (for example, specific termi-
nology for their company). Companies          Follow-up: Measuring and Improving Performance
moving toward globalization often                 Following up on a job is critical in order to improve your
need to change their mindset (for             overall performance. Even though it is vital that you get feed-
example, developing corporate termi-          back on how the translation was received, you also want to find
nology that is more universal in scope)       out if it moved your audience and achieved the client's expected
to one that takes into consideration any      objective. Ideally, feedback on the entire project is extremely
cultural, linguistic, behavioral, and busi-   helpful. By taking this approach, you go a step beyond your ini-
ness differences they might encounter         tial job and become more of a communicator. It will help you
while dealing with those from outside         improve your translating skills, and will provide you with cul-
their country.                                tural insight on your client. Again, the idea is not only how to
    Taking the time to listen and, if nec-    gain for yourself, but how to be more productive and efficient in
essary, meet clients in person, along         order to answer and anticipate your client's needs. This infor-
with having the discipline and respect        mation will help you build stronger bridges of communication
for deadlines, shows that you are there       between cultures. Sometimes feedback is hard to accept or even
to try and help the client fulfill his spe-   agree with, but you will gain in experience in either case.
cific needs.                                     Today, our job frequently involves more project manage-
                                              ment. For example, I often deal with graphic designers or
Writing Skills: Capturing and                 agencies that will format the text for the graphic designer
Communicating the Essence of the              and/or a printer. The result is that there tends to be quite a few
Words                                         individuals involved, besides the client, who can have last
   Sometimes translation has its limi-        minute changes. The final version must be proofread to ensure
tations. Creativity is quite limited          that punctuation is correct or that no text fell off in the design
when it comes to straight translations        process—a printer or designer who doesn't speak the language
where the content is quite precise and        won't notice! It's up to you to ensure a final quality product,
the terminology does not need any cul-        and you cannot betray your client's trust. This process is crit-
tural interpretation (for example, med-       ical in order to improve your translation skills while providing
ical or technical translations). These        you with the cultural dimension you need. It also offers an
types of translations are essentially         excellent opportunity to build up strong relationships with your
devoid of intercultural differences.          client, and illustrates your team spirit. Your attention to such
   On the other hand, many business           details will demonstrate your dedication and will show that
communications, such as human                 you respect and take your commitment to the client seriously.
resource messages and general corpo-              One other way to improve your skills and services is to keep
rate information, need the expertise of       learning. Continued education serves two major purposes. One
focuses on continuous improvement in order to seek excellence.           Making the final decision is really a
We must continuously review our translating processes, perfor-       question of personal choice and is quite
mances, and skills, but we also need to learn how to communi-        a challenge, both on a personal and
cate better and be in tune with the different cultural aspects our   business level. For my part, I was ready
job involves. It may be necessary to learn new skills in order to    to embark on the adventure, which has
keep ahead of the game and provide a service that is unique.         given me the opportunity to explore
     The second purpose of the learning process focuses on an        myself as an individual, my own skills,
 expanded understanding of our profession that goes beyond its       my performances, and my vision of the
 current practice and looks toward its future potential. Keeping     world and its outcome without the con-
 informed is vital to our profession. In order to shift from our     straint of a structure. It is a never-ending
 initial role as translator to the role of a global ambassador, it   job. Many times I feel like a lab techni-
 becomes necessary to understand globalization and to go             cian dealing with zillions of compo-
 beyond our cultural, geographic, and personal limits. Informa-      nents trying to make them interact prop-
 tion and cultural analysis are key elements to the transforma-      erly to produce a better product.
 tion of our profession. Cultural analysis is an excellent tool to   Because I believe in globalization, my
 become aware of your own motivations, personal and cultural         decision, to me, serves a philanthropic
 behaviors, as well as to acknowledge and respect your clients       purpose. There is much work to be
 and partners. Such information will help you monitor and            done, and all of us can participate
 review your own progress and evolution in the context of a          actively to ensure understanding and
 world always in motion.                                             communication between people.

Is Freelancing a Necessary Evolution?                                The Rewards
    In light of this approach of our new role as professionals, a       As a freelance translator, the rewards
simple question rises: Is freelancing a necessary evolution?         are plenty. There is no denying that the
Can we function as a translator, communicator, and global            job gives you an incredible and
ambassador within the traditional constructs of our profession?      exciting sense of fulfillment as an indi-
    When I drink my cup of coffee in the morning while surfing       vidual and as a professional. The
the Internet for news or resources sites, I am amazed at the         excitement lies also in making steps
pace at which the world is changing. Within seconds we can           for humanity every time you achieve
grasp vital information and economical and cultural trends. We       your mission as a global ambassador.
have become free of the traditional information structure and        There is no small step for humanity.
have reached a higher potential which allows us more choice.            Materialistically, by embracing this
It is up to us whether or not to use these new tools. Nonethe-       new role, you promote trust and the
less, the assistance these new tools and resources provide have      respect of the people you work for
not succeeded in providing a substitute to the human compo-          and/or with, but also gain recognition
nent. The need for human translators is in no current danger.        and, most likely, more business. One
    However, we cannot ignore the trends that are becoming           smart approach to changes in the way
more and more a reality. One of them concerns the question of        we run our business is to provide a fast,
outsourcing business. It is common nowadays for companies            efficient, and quality service based on
to outsource certain functions instead of investing in full-time     our strengths and our ability to adjust,
employees. It is especially true with specialty professions like     without losing sight of our ultimate
ours, and companies are, depending on your skills, willing to        mission—to serve people. Freelancing
pay for your unique service. It certainly presents advantages        offers this opportunity to the ones who
for all as well as inconveniences. Companies are not com-            are up to the adventure. The choice is
mitted to you, so the wide choice of freelancers currently avail-    yours. You, too, may also want to
able to them certainly motivates you to provide a unique ser-        embark on this incredible voyage. Wel-
vice designed to answer their needs. On your part, as difficult      come to the next generation!
as competition may be, you are free of a structure where your
potential as a global ambassador could be lost. And, of course,
you lose your dependency on one employer.                                                  Continued on p. 49

To Go Where No One has Gone Before
Continued from p. 47

Tips and Hints to Prepare for Your Journey as a Freelancer
The key of success resides in these few hints and tips:
  Think global
  Adopt a work ethic and make a commitment
  Think about the client's perspective
  Think about the recipient's perspective
  Be creative
  Be there
  Provide quality, but do not undersell your services
  Take a stand and make a difference
  Review and update your skills and your vision
  Be willing to adjust
  Establish and develop contacts
  Be strategic
  Be hungry for knowledge
  Expand your world
  Think about cultural analysis as an essential tool
  Be aware of traps and pitfalls, such as: short-term vision;
  resting on past performances; honor; failure to understand a
  world that is constantly changing; money issues; and letting
  other elements overpower you

   These few ideas do not pretend to give you all the answers
to your questions. It is up to you to find what is best for you.
Above all, keep in mind the ultimate purpose of our evolving
profession and how "free" you want to be.


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Elbahi Hassan Elbahi Hassan no
About I'm a student.